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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