1000 Doors: Christian Wagstaff & Keith Courtney

Approaching the large structure in Aotea Square, tiny key in hand, I’ve no idea what to expect. It was my friend who suggested it, but even she doesn’t really know what it’s about. The attendant at the door takes our keys and asks only that we shut all doors behind us. She’s friendly and upbeat but somehow the request seems a little ominous. The first room we enter is a clinical corridor complete with buzzing fluorescent lights. The buzzing sets my teeth on edge, and closing the door on it is a relief.


Thereafter we explore an impossible number of rooms, they fold into each other maze-like and offer glimpses of forgotten worlds, peeling papers revealing layered pasts, scattered black and white photographs suggesting possible past inhabitants.


We encounter other viewers, often unexpectedly, each door could open to a empty space or an occupied one. Gaps in the walls (and a peephole!) invite you to look into other rooms, spy. I am startled opening a door to a closet to find a girl inside, and in turn startle a man who opens a secret door hidden behind a shelf. We come across a couple of people who seem spooked, treating the installation like a haunted house, but there are no ghosts here.


It’s an adventure story or a mystery rather than a horror. Though ultimately it is what you make of it because there are no real clues given by the artists, only unanswered questions. 1000 Doors, a misnomer if taken literally, could refer to the multiplicity of possible experiences, or I suppose the perceived number of doors if you get lost in the maze.


Perhaps that’s the beauty of this installation, that it’s suggestive, the memories it holds are your own.

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