An Eminent Takeover

Places, spaces. They take on the smells of the people who occupy them. They take on their sins.

When I walked into the Lavenda Spa at the already-dying Eminent Plaza, it was not just the pearlized floral wallpaper that seemed to be covering up for other things on the wall. It was not just the shower stalls in each room, or the overly romanticized, rococo-ness of it all. If there ever was a place where spirits dwelled, this was one of them.

And what is it about places that make people want to leave their marks behind? Like liquid-paper graffiti on playgrounds, and ballpoint-pen crosses on poster girls' eyes, and lovers'locks on bridges. A compelling space makes us want to leave a part of ourselves there.

So did I, when I walked in that spa. Like the many artists who had already started to fill the walls of Eminent Plaza with exploding graffiti, clever interventions, and even desperate Sharpie scrawls. K and I talked it over and decided that something had to be done the very next day, or time would run out. (The urgency of action when time threatens to overthrow a place.)

Elisa was most welcoming when I Facebook-messaged her about taking a spa room. And this was the one I chose--a small corner, a slip of a room, marked "Store". A room that is a corner, more useful for hiding than for stacking boxes in. Other artists took wings, bathrooms; filled them with reminders of death, of sleaze, of whatever the place spoke to them of.

For me it was that light in the false ceiling, the only white flourescent bulb in the rose-tinted place. The way it glared against the pearlescent wallpaper, and made the ugly floor more apparent. The decay of the bulding, even while electricity still ran.

"It was impossible to come in and fix the holes in the walls with the clientele still coming in and out, so they have to tear the whole building down."

80% of the work is the spa itself. It throbs and lashes before its death. It was emptied, trampled upon, marked for execution.

It came down to the title. A title is an artist's fullstop, isn't it. A final prayer. So a prayer was what it was, like a baptism before a hospital-bed death. "Light Will Have Its Way."

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Julienne Tan / tan.julienne@gmail.com / © All Rights Reserved