A site-specific, multi-channel sound installation about the human body and its condition, honoring almost eight centuries of death and healing on the de Bijloke site. 40 explores the potential of sound in evoking experiences of sickness and alienation, without the aid of any visual stimuli.

The title references the forty beds in the original hospital building, erected during the first half of the 13th century in the marshland surrounding the city of Ghent.

There are not so many sounds or images that can be regarded as universal symbols. Breath is anonymous. It could belong to anyone, anywhere and, together with our pulse, it is the sign that we are still alive. 40 is made up of nothing more than the sound of people breathing while they sleep because I realized that sleep was the element that connected and reconciled all the points that I wanted to touch in my piece. It resembles death in the way it disconnects us from the world and from our conscious self. It is the portal to a mysterious dimension, governed by rules yet undiscovered. It nourishes life. And, perhaps the most important point for me, it is the one moment that brings forgetfulness. During sleep our everyday sorrow, our pain, be it physical or psychological, diminish or, in many cases, disappear completely. It is one of the instants in which we are close to being well, being safe, being healed. We all lived difficult moments and, I am sure, we can all recall waking up and not remembering, for a split second, before reality rushed back in, what was wrong with us. It is during those moments that we realize how blissful our suspended state was. Sleep is, at the same time, our connection to death and our connection to healing. During sleep our bodies are naked, in the sense that we don’t control our image, how we come across, how we sound. The only sonic proof of our sleep is our breathing.


We do not have such a hard time imagining the sound of pain. Close your eyes, think of it, try to hear it. It’s there, isn’t it? Probably different for all of us, but there it is. The sound of pain.

What does healing sound like?

40 is conceived as a cocoon of sound, enveloping the public in the breath of dozens of unknown people. It has an almost voyeuristic quality, allowing the visitors to witness one of the most intimate and vulnerable moments in the life of a human being. By entering the installation, they enter in contact with sounds unknown even to most of the people who produced them.