Voyage dans le noir

Better than a handbag

Today I got stuck in an elevator. And not just any elevator, but a Louis Vuitton elevator on the Champs-Elysées. An LVMH elevator that was entirely black inside, without any lights or buttons. At first I thought it was some sort of art thing. But after thirty seconds, I noticed that the elevator had not done a single thing, except to trap me inside.

Now I don’t panic often, but standing in what appeared to be a broken, pitch-black elevator was definitely disconcerting. I banged on the doors. “Au secours!”  I yelled. No response. I banged again and yelled even louder. Rien. I have to say that one of the most impressive attributes of darkness is that it fires up your imagination faster than a cup of coffee. It took me all of about ten more seconds to jump to the conclusion that I was going to be trapped inside the elevator indefinitely.

I banged on the door again for good measure, and then decided to take out my camera (yes, I did not have my phone), which emits a little orange light when it tries to focus on objects. I scanned the elevator for the alarm. Encore rien. After accidentally taking five pictures of the darkness, I realized that the elevator was strangely buttonless. I put the camera back in my pocket and began to bang like hell. Finally, after about five minutes, the doors opened to two perplexed-looking women.

“You must be an American,” the first woman said. “Who else would do such a foolish thing?”

The second woman then informed me that I was not supposed to have gone into the elevator by myself, and that you needed an attendant to take you up to the art gallery. I protested (where’s the sign, people?), she apologized, and then we got back into the elevator. At this point I learned that it was indeed an art installation called “Voyage dans le noir” (artist Olafur Eliasson) designed to disorient visitors by plunging them into darkness. (“I guess you have already experienced this” were the attendant’s exact words.) Need I say that the elevator experience was much more powerful than the rest of the exhibit?

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