Our lives play out inside institutionalised space. Classrooms, hospitals, offices and the like form the backdrop to our everyday activities and encounters with other people. These spaces are furnished with instantly recognizable objects, props that help us to perform our duties as members of society. We store documents filing cabinets, we recuperate on a hospital bed, we stare at a wall-mounted board during lessons. The activities that take place in these spaces are familiar. We can easily imagine these spaces in use, because they are the sets on which all of us act out our lives.
Yet these particular rooms have never been used, at least not in the conventional sense. The only people who have ever entered here are fire fighters preparing for what we hope we never experience. These eerily empty rooms are home to nobody except the ghostly figures of a fire fighter’s imagination. Add one or two pristine white touches of life, however, and the absent occupants become much more real and also more absent at the same time. Slippers cast off beside the bed, paper tossed towards a wastebasket, a potted plant that personalizes a desktop. Lives that never were, in rooms where death is everywhere.