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“Pent-up Sighs” was installed by Dutch artist Anke Kuypers in the Museum Smallingerland, Drachten, as part of her exhibit “In Kleur” (In Color), from 24 February to 11 April, 2001.

From the exhibition catalogue: “The title ‘Pent-up Sighs’ is taken from the book Roman Blood by Steven Saylor. Where Anke Kuypers explores the boundaries of color and space in visual matter, Steven Saylor is the master of the word, evoking the image of space in which a transparent curtain underlines the delicate atmosphere in the room as opposed to the hard and cruel reality of the Roman world.”

From chapters 3 and 4 of Roman Blood:

The hallway was quite short, hardly a hallway at all. We walked between unadorned walls for only a few paces, and then both walls ended. To the right was a broad curtain of pale yellow gauze, so fine I could see straight through it into the small but immaculately kept atrium beyond. Open to the sun and sky, the atrium was like a well carved out of the house, a reservoir spilling over with heat and light. At its center a tiny fountain splashed. The gauzy curtain rippled and billowed gently, like a mist disturbed by a puff of air, like a living membrane sighing at the slightest breeze . . . .

The yellow curtain rippled. A gust of warm air slipped beneath its hem and entered the room like a mist clinging low to the ground. I felt it pool and eddy about my feet, heavy with the scent of jasmine. The morning was almost over. The true heat of the day was about to begin. I suddenly felt sleepy . . . .

I sighed. The curtain sighed. The heat crept up my feet and legs, like water slowly rising in a well . . . .

Cicero glanced away, peering into the translucent folds of the yellow curtain, as if he could see beyond it all the human refuse of Rome . . . .

I looked away. My eyes fell on the yellow curtain. Like Cicero a moment before, I found myself gazing at it and into it, as if in the vagueness of the shapes beyond one could indeed make out the images invoked by memory or suggestion.

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