Sinfonía del Sueño

Alonso Gil
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Sinfonía del sueño documents a ‘phonoevent’, a concert for two hundred synchronised alarm clocks, which, as if they were proper musical instruments, are placed in a specific order according to sound groups, like an orchestra, behind the stern of a small open boat, the sound therefore constituting something like the wake of the boat. Previously, the boat had been altered and designed in the style of an oriental room (with huge cushions that invite the spectator/listener to lie down and enjoy the concert). This is a performative installation that reflects on the political-economic frame of the Gibraltar Strait focusing on two concepts: time and movement.

Sinfonía del sueño is a piece specifically created for the city in which it was shown, Ceuta, and it feeds on references to the indigenous socio-cultural context: its condition as an autonomous Spanish city lying within the African continent, its location facing the Gibraltar Strait, its position as the northern border with Morocco, its multicultural population, its traditional operation as a commercial paradise for those coming from the Peninsula, etc.

Ceuta’s condition as a free port and the resultant exemptions and custom duty discounts, turned this city into a one-day-visit area: enough time to arrive by ship from Algeciras, go shopping in one of the city’s many bazars and return to the illusory ‘security’ of the peninsular homes. Years ago, people went to Ceuta exclusively to buy import technology -  mostly coming from Asia -, that back then couldn’t be found in the Peninsula, or that, even if it could, was on offer at the ‘caballa’* bazars at ostensibly lower prices. Photo cameras, music equipment and watches used to be the star products. And these were precisely the instruments that Gil used to create Sinfonía del sueño.

The rhythms, the composition and the mixture of the different alarm clock sounds, including some with the muezzin’s call to prayer, - a reflection of the multicultural population inhabiting this city -, result in an incredibly attractive and peculiar symphony/trance which, paradoxically, instead of fulfilling its traditional duty of waking the sleeper up, it rather incites us to sleep to a kind of narcotic trans-cultural/continental/religious/oceanic lullaby.

Sinfonía del sueño was presented as part of the project Local Cultura, which took place in the Museo Marítimo y Archivo of Ceuta. It was also included in Almadraba, a multidisciplinary project which took place on the three shores of the Gibraltar Strait.

* ‘caballa’ is what the residents of Ceuta are popularly called. The more academic term for it is ‘ceutí’.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Sinfonía del Sueño
  • Direction: Alonso Gil
  • Production: Alonso Gil. 1997.
  • Duration: 00:01:20
  • Languages: English - Spanish
  • Original format: DVD
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright