Haunted Hallway

Haunted Hallway
3 photographs, vintage wallpaper, acrylic medium
each image 5" x 7"

Stairs can be dangerous places. My grandfather died from a fall down a flight stairs. While carrying a watermelon up the stairs, the leg brace he wore caught a tread and he lost his balance. My mother some years later fell down the same steps and survived with just two broken arms and a broken leg.  Was it a misstep or was the spirit of my grandfather now haunting those stairs? Ghosts are said to hang around the place of their tragedy, often inadvertently causing further mishaps. Or, perhaps it was some other demon cursing the stairs that was to blame for both disasters. We can only guess. Those stairs were no longer used
after my mother’s accident.
In folklore, the stairs of a house fall within the realm of transitional areas.  While a part of the house, they are not part of the living space. They exist in a twilight place, making them vulnerable points of attack for evil to invade. Like their attendant hallways, they connect rooms, but one does not live on them. Stairs are also full of corners and turns which collect negative energy. Because of this build up of negativity and vulnerability, there are rituals to keep the evil spirits at bay that may be lurking about to trip up an unsuspecting soul. Superstition advises when climbing stairs, that one should always keep ones hand on the railing and the railing should always be made of wood. Wood comes from trees and trees, since the time of the ancient Greeks have been accorded their own deities. The Greeks called the tree spirit by various names: Melia for ash, Epimeilad for apple and Caryatid for walnut, but dryad, which has its literal translation of “oak wood,” has come to represent all trees. Pagans, when collecting fruit, cutting branches, or felling a tree, would ask permission from the resident dryad first. There would often be an offering of thanks left behind. Over time, this ritual devolved to a simple knocking to acknowledge the spirits presence in the wood. We still “knock on wood” to obtain the favor of the resident spirit. This is also why we are to keep our hand on the railing as we walk on the stairs, to implore the dryad to protect us from falling. 
Symbolically, stairs are the path to the higher self, which is why many public building were built with grand stairs up to the entrance. Such a monumental flight of stairs provided both the visual and physical experience of being elevated to the place of mankind’s highest achievements. At the top of the steps, the sojourner is ascendant; somehow greater than before, or they are about to have an experience that will enlighten. Since stairs are an ascension to the higher self there is a superstition that you should not pass people on them. Encountering someone else as you go up stairs is an impediment to your lofty goal. To
negate any negative impact of the encounter, cross your fingers or make the sign of the cross. The cross is an ancient symbol of balance. The two opposing lines restores the equality of energy and the central crossing point binds the object of the spell. This is also why it is believed that tying a knot in a string can bind a magic spell. The knot is a form of the cross. Crossing your fingers has the same effect – the binding of positive energy. Similarly, in Catholic ceremonial practice, the act of crossing oneself is an act of consecration. The movement, in the form of the cross of Calvary, is a supplication to bind a blessing and thwart whatever evil may be present.
Haunted Hallway is informed by these concepts of folklore, superstition, ascension and transition. The confusing space, peeling walls, unnatural lighting and the addition of shards of wallpaper from the site lend an eerie quality to the images. There is something that emanates from objects that have history. An anima perhaps. This hallway in a 19th century building is purported to be haunted. By incorporating pieces of the ancient wallpaper onto the images of this space, it is my hope that the residual energy of age, or of the possible presence, are now a part of the piece.
As you make your climb, hold onto the railing and tread your steps carefully. The dim and steep stairs of life have many a bogie which has been enjoined to keep us from reaching the top. If we know the secrets, we can ascend these dark places with protection. - AB

Haunted Hallway was exhibited in The Fool's Journey at Curious Matter.

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