I took this photograph below a sky-high sea of chandeliers in the Royal Palace of Madrid, simply, at first, because it was beautiful. Yet the more I dwelt on it and felt the gentle rise and scuff of the red velvet carpet beneath my shoes, the more I felt like royalty – or more specifically, a princess roaming about my many dormitories in solitude and elegance. The crowds of tourists faded away as I imagined being perched haphazardly in one of the nearby chaise lounge’s, reading or listening to a violinist dressed in a crest-blue navy waistcoat and golden slippers. Drifting into a lull, I imagine I would gaze up at the chandeliers in the room that kept it so vibrant and alive and ponder about my 16th-century-self and status. It’s interesting that you are always beneath and below chandeliers, not to state the obvious that they ought to be, but because they represent just what a royal is: the peak of hierarchy and leadership. Yet I thought how ironic that would be, gazing up at the chandeliers, drenched in excessive privileges and wealth but being a 16th-century, or even 18th-century woman. Obviously, the Queen, and all those who came before her, have tremendous power over the common worker, yet I felt a pang of recognition channeling through my Doc Martens to the princesses who undoubtedly must have existed who felt the oppression of maintaining respectability with rebellion at heart. I thought about the princesses and noblewomen who must have stared up at the chandelier, simply bored and troubled by their caged life and what little else they could become.
My mind then drifted to Sia’s “Swinging from the Chandelier”, a current and very popular chart song in which at first begins to portray a party and alcohol-fuelled lifestyle. Yet the song suddenly turns and appears to have an underlying tone, one of alcoholism and depression potentially leading to suicide as even the title suggests as “Swinging from the Chandelier” doesn’t necessarily mean holding on by your hands.
I think the song massively cries out to the other side of the party-girl, the girl who is desperate for validation by destructing herself under the guise of alcohol, yet fooling no-one that she is a shell of her full-self. She’s an alcoholic, swinging from the chandelier at a party to convince everyone she’s fine. I thought about how thought-provoking the song is, and how it concerns a very central and recent concern about stigma’s towards mental health and how we ought to be speaking more about it.
The rows upon relentless rows of chandeliers in the palace only renders my mind full of desperate women, clinging to the golden edges whilst the diamonds drop and scatter across the floor – whether figuratively in their own imaginations as princesses, or literally in the high-spirits of a good time. After all, as Morrissey once expressed, “I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, yet heaven knows I’m miserable now.” Alcohol keeps the sadness temporarily at bay, although swinging from the chandelier may not have been the best of ideas last night.
Therefore, this picture represents the state of mind that women may have felt long ago – golden, isolated, looked up to by many, as well as representing the masses of people who definitely do suffer from mental health issues today. The people who feel silenced by their own depression and turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain, and how on the surface all seems fine and ‘vibrant’. Thus, this photograph represents the complex and hidden state of mind, a mind that is troubled but disguised, disguised well by a person’s appearance, and tragic because their troubles ought not to be deceived.