minute 26

The Day of Mary’s Doom

It is in the midst of August and the heat is suffocating. Pearls of sweat form on my forehead as I enter the room through the backdoor. My muscles are tense, my throat is dry, the tremor of my hands not be calmed by the prayer position in which I force them to rest. The beat of my heart is tripling the deafening beat of the clock, which - like the drummer on a galore - keeps all under its command. The adamantly ticking second hand steadily takes its course to the twelve.

I walk up to my position. The creaking of the wooden floor, the clock, and the unbearable heat produce a stinging pain in my forehead. I breathe, try to master my senses, try to steady myself, and to express the calm composure apt for my profession. As I arrive at my position, I am warmly greeted by the governor, the attorneys, and the executing officer. I return their friendly words with a nod, unable to look into their eyes. My gaze is directed at the clock – 6 Minutes and 26 seconds. 25. 24. 23. My heart beat is beyond control. I force my eyes away; let them wander down the white sterile walls. They creep along to the wooden floor and up to the glass pane that divides the room into a satanic theatre, separating the one doomed to descend from the ones who stay up here, hoping to once resume the opposite course.

The door on the other side of the room opens. The spectacle begins. Wearing a white overall, her hands tied behind her back, Mary is led into the room. Her head is shaved and bowed, her body bent. Her beauty, frivolity, and vanity - mere memories; preserved in the imagination of an aging priest. Like a puppet on strings, she mechanically motions according to the prescribed course. She is placed on the chair, abulic. Motionless she endures the procedure. The electrodes are fastened on her body. A dark leather cap is slipped over her head. Her face is hidden. Stared at by dozens of eyes fixed upon her, herself deprived of sight, Mary awaits her fate, unable to see the pious citizens who wish for the witch to burn in hell.

The clock strikes twelve. The time has come. The first electric current is sent through her spine. Her body vibrates; her head thrusts forward and back, her body bends forward, pressing against the harness. The odour of burnt flesh and sweat permeates the room. A few nods are exchanged, the lever is moved once again. The second current of electricity is send through her body. I leave the room silently.

Associations /components/images presented in minute 26

1. Woman in proto tanning-studio + music = threatening character à light, light bulbs, electricity, enlightenment, progress // death à electric chair
also: focus on torso + mirror à sexuality, body, gaze, temptation
2. Ship: Perspective/ analogy drawn à female body & foreign land à conquest
3. Sailor: How far can we go and where to stop – to the moon and further? Upward movement, finger pointed upward, the endeavor is obscured (by film material) materiality à body à mortality
4. The crew: faded images, impression of transience à memories à association with the war(s): victory, glory à fading. What is left? Disillusion?
5. The Man: seems to personify authority: transformation; cracks, deformation

Stefanie Achhammer