There Is A Ghost Of Me


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

There Is A Ghost Of Me
"Everywhere ghosts, not just of motion, blur, of building, concrete carcass and serried stairs untroubled by the feet that no longer walk upon them."

She saw the centre of the universe in a Turkish pizza. There is a ghost. Media so mixed that there are stocks of films, blurs drawn on the frame, the flare of lens diverse, flashing colours. An attempt to summon life into the lifeless, the unvanished dead as fuel. Light passes across a figure in the shadow of 2016 election, the streets are littered, the field is static.

Intermediated to the extent that it has a typeface credit, Charlotte Rohde provided capitals that bleed at angles in a way that discomfits. Across Mateo Vega's film a haunting of self, by the self. I counted multiple iterations of the title, English, Dutch, Spanish. A recurring line, "there is a ghost of me."

In pre-recorded Q&A for the 2022 Glasgow Short Film Festival he talked about its inspirations. He explained that as an artist in residence in Lima he'd been told that "Buildings get set on fire on purpose by their owners to evict their tenants", research back in Amsterdam about gentrification, "another kind of lost future" "imagining yourself in the future... and that being taken away from you". That sense, the poetry of the film, its repetitions, was matched to visual research that he had already done. Material from what he described as "a personal archive that he reassembled and reconfigured" became the material of the film. "I can do whatever I want" a realisation, a goal of "different layers", "incomplete copies of the real thing", these mechanics of film-making each differently representative of the idea of the ghost.

Desolation, degradation, decay, all detail in design. Created through text "a backbone", "a really intuitive process" put if not flesh on skeleton but a sheet over a space. He talked about synchronicity, his tooth related woes and their timings, how that pain became a way to connect to events. It's reach is significant even in its few minutes, the layering of textures from its mixture of media, all give a sense of some somewheres. Somewhere "ghosts haunt". The film too, the shadows of blinds caught by the slice of the shutter, tunnels, faceless stares on framing stairs. There are enough layers here that to pull them back si to reveal grinding teeth below them, imagery that might be medical one of dozens of intimacies, at once lost and spiritual. Everywhere ghosts, not just of motion, blur, of building, concrete carcass and serried stairs untroubled by the feet that no longer walk upon them. Opening and nearly closing with a digital replica, itself another form of ghost, the detritus on the street as much an echo of the ending of a life as ash or shade or absent shadow.

The skirling of the wind and those teeth that have gnashed is part and parcel of the haunting. There may be no chains but these are fictions forged in life, not the counterfeit but the counterfactual, the outcomes rendered impossible by the gifts of the present. Vega has said his film started, at least in creation, with the line "there is a ghost of me", and that refrain has echoes throughout the text for which it is at once title and synecdoche.

Reviewed on: 03 Apr 2022
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There Is A Ghost Of Me packshot
An attempt at mourning both personal and political futures that never arrived, organised around a broad interpretation of the trope of the ghost.

Director: Mateo Vega

Writer: Mateo Vega

Year: 2021

Runtime: 6 minutes

Country: Netherlands, Peru


GSFF 2022

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