In the Waiting Room: Kendall Hill on Silke Otto-Knapp

Note from the Editor: The following photographic essay and texts were commissioned by artist and poet Kendall Hill for THE SEEN. The images were shot on a medium-format Mamiya 645 and the accompanying poems written by Hill enact the original source material for the title of the exhibition—a poem by Elizabeth Bishop—In the Waiting Room: Silke Otto-Knapp at the Renaissance Society, which took place from January 11–March 29, 2020.

Originally published in THE SEEN April 20th, 2020

January 10, 1999. A young David Chase brings to air The Sopranos. The opening shot is of Tony Soprano in a waiting room. His head is between the legs of an oxidized statue, giving birth to a new journey for the 7:00pm audience. It’s almost as if his old life is saying “here, he is now your problem to deal with; take him.” The waiting room scene cuts, from now on Tony is seen on other sides of the partition, venting to his therapist—out into the world. I chose not to overlook that such a powerful character waits, is filled with anxiety.

What is the waiting room? A moment of transition.

The dreams have been crazy lately. There’s a dryness in the air, a doubt, a gloom about being alive and young right now,

he says to me over the phone. 

Is there a place to rest out here—how do you find it?

I have seen this in my father, a desire to move but not to settle. Knowing very well that’s not really home. A distraction can’t be the surface of bliss, the tip of my sweet tongue. Is this world making me feel comfortable, ready to be alive?

I think I see my evil twin

lil demon ,

a couple tens

I show you mean.


I show you teeth

I mean , if you ain’t holding me back,

I’m mean, I seen it in the mirror

sometimes, got evil twin

sometimes, I need it.

If this was seen

and I’m all in

over lost fathers

you see, this fourth wall

barging in my ego ,

stand and feel the vertigo.

Spit water from a faucet

up, another mirror

up, a few pretty sounds

and night terrors, and

redscapes – is this evil,

can’t focus when I’m alone.

I can’t go , afar from you

far cry from February

messing with ax and pick

looking at 26 poisons

tryna understand finger work.

Little master

look up, and accept it all 

make my eyes gleam 

try a tea set,

granite make up top,

three glasses, 

we need this much water.

My little master

you beautiful 

despite lack of future 

despite a hand 

two legs around mine 

I’m thinking 

has it been this long.

Between the sunlight 

Everyone who wanted a crazy life 

right here. Yes , the sun 

yes, I’m keeping tabs on ,

you get it now. 

Well , between the sunlight 

yes, between my face

you’d see my thoughts stay the same 

my face never moved 

my heart on vacation 

legs still kicking 

mind mending it all. 

Keeping pity for myself 

watching the wind blow

sending and doing good time

well , at least I’m trying. 

I’m bold enough 

looking for evil twin like 

I’ll show you teeth 

and how would i know 

what it like to be adored 

knocking at your door 

bold with odor

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