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 yet done anything, except trap me inside.
Now I don’t panic often, but standing in what appeared to be a broken elevator in the dark was definitely disconcerting. I banged on the doors. “Hello!’ I yelled. No response. I banged again and yelled even louder. Nada. I have to say that one of the most impressive attributes of darkness is that it allows your imagination to really take off in ways that do not normally happen when you are capable of seeing what is around you. It took all of about another thirty seconds to jump to the conclusion that I was going to be trapped in the elevator indefinitely.
I banged on the door again for good measure, and then decided to take out my camera, which emits a little orange light when it tries to focus on objects. I scanned the elevator for the alarm (not there). 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. Two women were standing there, staring at me.
The first 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 Louis Vuitton 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 words.) Need I say that the elevator was much more powerful than the rest of the exhibit at the gallery?