Meeting With Spirits of the ROM

May 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

I found myself captured in a tiny crystal along with the ghosts of the ROM as I stood in the centre of the Spirit House in Daniel Libeskind’s Crystal. The spirits lingered in all of the possible corners of the criss-cross crystal that spanned six levels. The three things that caught my attention were the Spirit House Chairs, the ticking clock in the background along with other random noises and the multidimensional structure of the Spirit House itself.

Anyone is welcomed to sit on any of the thirteen chairs when not occupied by the ghosts of the Spirit House. But most of them are friendly and do accommodate anyone who wants to join them. The chairs are yet tiny crystals designed in five dimensions. They are as multidimensional and as shiny as a crystal can be. As I made myself comfortable in one of the chairs a female voice whispered greetings in my ear in many different languages out of which I only understood Hello and Bonjour. Quite stupid, but I was very tempted to ‘Hello back’ so that she can quit whispering it to me.

Though no one can see these spirits of ROM, they have made their presence felt through the multidimensional music ‘A Time to Hear for Here’ played by the spirits themselves. Hushed for a long time they now can make as much noise as they want to in the Spirit House while silence prevails in the rest of the museum. The Spirit House offers itself as a space ‘where sound is as important as silence’. The museum has itself been given voice in the Spirit House of Lee-Chin’s crystal where these spirits are actually the representatives of the many themes presented by ROM.

Despite all of the whispers of ghosts, the ticking clock, the theme of time, appealed me the most. It seemed like the spirits were warning me of their enemy, time, that did not care much about them and continued its journey relentlessly. Time never changes its pace for anyone. Other voices came and vanished but time adamantly stayed and ticked constantly in my ears.

While the whispers of the spirits added to the multidimensionality of the Spirit House, it is enhanced the most by its architecture. The room not only spans upwards but continues its crystalline structure below the floor of the Spirit House giving an illusion of height and depth at the same time.

The sound installation ‘A Time to Hear for Here’ was composed by John Oswald. The Spirit House Chairs are designed by architect Daniel Libeskind and manufactured by Toronto furniture-maker Klaus Nienkamper.

The ROM also offers free admission to post-secondary students all day Tuesday. Do not forget to bring your student ID card when you plan to visit ROM.

Rabia Ahmed


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