Bodies, Emptiness, and Sleep in Ghost Tropic

Curator's Note

Bas Devos’ film Ghost Tropic includes a sequence of about four minutes that shows us the protagonist in her process of falling asleep. It is a momentary daydream, a pause that takes place at night, in the absence of other bodies while she makes a short journey alone on the subway back home.

She falls asleep with her headphones on, but the spectator never seems to hear what she is listening to. Those images are the murmur of other sounds. Its sonic aura moves to another space; it goes to another side. The absence of other bodies, the pleasant emptiness of falling asleep in the subway’s emptiness at night, and although the subway runs at full speed, it leads us towards a pause, passing from the contemplation of monotony to the loss of the journey through the disconnection from the sleeping body of Khadija. On the other hand, the reverse shot that the viewer perceives is a beam of lights coming out from the reflection of the train window, a daily abstraction that helps to extend the sleeping time.

In this momentary dream, this pause of 24/7 by Jonathan Crary, in Ghost Tropic, a relaxing sound is challenged in its gesture. If the sequence goes from the shrilling noise of the subway to the absolute silence and emptiness, it culminates towards the end of the sequence with the sound of a jungle. The sound level breaks into the physical and sound levels of the visual plane. It invites the audience to make us sleep in the cinema, during the film, and in front of the screen. The director is inviting us out to sleep with the protagonist, even for a few seconds, to close our eyes as she does, even without knowing exactly what she is listening to.

In Ghost Tropic, the night of the film is crossed, and we are invited to enter it and close our eyes for a moment. A blink. Like the jungle that can be a meter by day, it turns the movie theater into the unconscious of the protagonist, crossing all the physical limits between screen, image, and projection in a safe, collective, and intimate space.


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