What: 1000 Doors – Door Within a Door
Where: Garden of Unearthly Delights
When: now through to March 21st
Review by Stephanie Rillo
1000 Doors – Door Within a Door is an interactive art exhibition that presents itself as an immersive, eerie maze where no two rooms are the same. The artist has gone to great efforts to create a ‘house’ that is decrepit and in disrepair, and the attention-to-detail is evident all throughout – creating a truly unsettling atmosphere. As an art exhibition, I think that 1000 Doors is a standout both in its uniqueness and its ability to evoke suspense and paranoia in guests. As an ‘experience’ however, I definitely think that 1000 Doors’ bark is worse than its bite.
The hype surrounding the exhibition likened it to a claustrophobic’s nightmare, an anxiety-inducing ‘must-see’. Compared to the claims made by its advertising, I found it to be a little underwhelming. The suspense of ‘what’s behind the next door?’ depleted every time you turned a knob and realised the answer: nothing. True, this maze doesn’t claim to have jump scares or other horror tropes – and in fact, I think that would have cheapened the experience. As an interactive art exhibition however, I do feel as though 1000 Doors would have benefitted from a narrative structure that becomes clearer deeper into the house. The aforementioned attention-to-detail does a fabulous job at insinuating that something sinister occurred in the house – but we are never given anything to offer even a vague storyline. The music and sound effects emphasise the eerie atmosphere, but there is no context to this atmosphere. Furthermore, ‘maze’ is a generous word for what is actually just one route, with a few dead ends along the way (and you won’t get further than one or two rooms before realising you’ve made a mistake). The website says to allow 30 minutes to complete the walkthrough. I managed to complete it within 15, and that included a retreat to explore any dead ends that I’d missed.
Still, I think 1000 Doors is an impressive feat of artistic expression. And with any art, it is up for interpretation – which is perhaps why the artist neglected to include any kind of narrative structure. While I think its promotional material was a little misleading, I do think that it is still worth a look if you have any spare time in the Garden of Unearthly Delights. At the very least, it offers an immersive atmosphere that you can project your own imagination into.