Site-specific installation, in collaboration with clairvoyant Dr. Marilyn Rossner
Part of the exhibition "48 Hours/48 Rooms," curated by Ingrid Bachmann
Montreal, May 7–9, 1999
On May 3rd, 1999, DisplayCult invited Dr. Marilyn Rossner, a renowned Montreal medium, to give a live psychic reading of the 4004 St. Denis building. An audiotape of the session ran on a continuous fifteen-minute cycle.
For further documentation, see Ingrid Bachmann, ed., 48 Hours/48 Rooms, CD-ROM, 2002.
TRANSCRIPTION OF READING OF ROOM 208 BY MARILYN ROSSNER
MARILYN: [coughs] Loving creator we gather together to hear and to speak, to sense and to know. What is significant in this space, in this place. And we do this all in your honour. We invite the loved ones and the guides to be especially close to us. I’m going to ask you to repeat your whole names.
DISPLAYCULT: “Jennifer Fisher.” “Jim Drobnick.”
MARILYN: Well I’ll just share some impressions I had since we came into the building because it’s not just this space, it’s really [coughs] the whole building.
[coughs] I feel a coughing feeling, very choking feeling. I have a very strong sense of many, many sadnesses that were experienced in this whole place.
What I would like to do is share any information about the building and then I’ll try to focus on this particular space, and also how you people are connected to the building and to this space because it is not an accident that the two of you have become a part of this project. It isn’t an accident that you are invited to participate, it’s something much more than that.
As we came in the building from outside I had the feeling of a very strong heaviness. I could see older men in heavy winter clothes, tired people treading step by step, step by step. [coughs]
I feel that there were people at one time in connection with the place that had different kinds of health conditions. It could have been conditions that were bronchial, [coughs] people who had difficulty with breathing. I have no problems with my own breath, my own health. When I invite the spirits to do this, I experience and describe the conditions that some of them had.
People in the outside community felt it was fortunate for those who were able to have a place. But as I went across the threshold I began to feel a sadness almost at the point of tears. It was like the spirits were gathering saying “They don’t know how hard it was for us, how much we suffered.”
I feel so much suffering. As soon as we walked up the stairs and looked in the second floor I felt someone take a deep breath and close the door and leaning against it thinking “Oh, I made it, I finally made it.” And then I came up here I have the sense of a little bit more lightness. I realize that the artists are already working here and artistic energy is very good for the spirits, really creative, and usually they will change the vibration of the place.
I feel that this place was used for different reasons for considerable periods of time.
I know that it is said it was a rooming house, it obviously was, but I feel that it was something in addition to a rooming house. It was like a refuge. At times there were people here who had been ill also because I feel an elderly gentleman and he’s holding his head. I’m definitely feeling that there were times here when there were a lot of people who were ill in body, this was a place where they could come and recover and rest. I have the feeling this was like a rest place.
And coming in this place, exactly in this space. I have the sense that there may have been someone here who was very active. The person would talk and it was hard for them to stay focused, to stay still. I think that there was a lot of activity, in the body and the mind of this person. “I want to live here, I want to live here.” But it was not easy for the person to live here.
There were people connected with this place who either were victims of war or refugees. They’re definitely people who needed a place. I just have a sense that the spirits are so happy that this is happening because the artists, the art, the movement will help these spirits go to the light.
There are souls who are lost -- who don’t know where they are -- who are going to find a place of rest because of this project. So it’s really very important.
There’s a man who had a connection with a ship because he shows me a ship. I’m sure that his was a place for people who were ill at one point, also a place for people who had nowhere to go. There were other people who paid for them, an organization who helped them to be here, where they were given a chance. I’d like to say that they were people who were not really understood. I feel spirits who are saying “We were OK people, they didn’t understand us, they didn’t know how hard our life was.”
This one person used to smoke up with a pipe, says “They didn’t know how hard it was for us. But you know we tried to make it.”
I see an elderly lady and she has a scarf on her head. She’s talking about the war days and I want to go to Eastern Europe here. I have a sense that there were people who are connected here who have nowhere to go. People often though they were vagabonds. But they weren’t always vagabonds. They really had nowhere else to go. But there were also some very, very hard working people in this place who had a beginning.
I get the feeling of nurses, like Red Cross nurses, people who tried to help, people who tried to rehabilitate.
What is most interesting is that there are many souls who are saying that we’re going to the light. There are many who are coming and are saying “We know who we are. We are at peace.”
I’m sure that there are people connected here who had something to do with war because I’m hearing “In Flanders Field where poppies grow.”
There is also someone here connected with England. I want to say “I want to go to England.” I’m looking at the water. “Andrews, Andrews. The name is Andrews” and he’s speaking with this very English accent. But he says that he liked theatre in his day and he is very happy to be a part of this project. He says “It’s quite alright in the spirit world! It’s time that people know about the spirit world. They need to know about the spirit world!”
There is also someone here with a name that sounds like Dickson. There are people here, I feel, who had escaped from the war. Jewish people in a community who were very hard working, very hard working.
This is the third or fourth major project which was done here. There is much that has been covered. Much hidden information is underneath this [these walls], as to what really occurred.
There were also things that were hidden also, people who hid information. It’s almost like they had a double life. By day they had one role, by night another.
What I’m very, very aware of is that there were many souls from the spiritual world who are around because they very much want to bring truth to humanity. There were people here whose families had suffered war, starvation, like refugees who had nowhere to go, people who were sick, people who were downtrodden.
They want to help people know that we must stop war. We must stop war of all kinds. “War must stop.” That’s what I keep hearing.
I just saw a huge light. I never thought that this would happen here. But I feel that this project is really initiated by the spirit world because they want people to know not to fight. And it’s not just this particular room. They want people not to fight.
Then I hear someone saying that there were plenty of brawls in the halls here at one time. People who were tipsy.
There were many projects in this place. There were different kinds of people in this place. But it was always people who had suffered, worked hard, who had to have a new beginning, who had nowhere to go. It was not an easy place. But the outside people thought “Wow they are there, it must be nice there.”
I felt that for the people here there was tremendous loneliness. There’s a search for family. A lot of people who came didn’t know where their families were. Their families had died. Their families had disowned them. Their families were in another nation. They were looking for family. But they wanted us to know though that they are at peace. That there were many souls who were going to the light. That’s a very interesting thing. That they were going to the light.