If a lonely and empty Doel were called a Ghost Town, who exactly is haunted by whom? Who is the ghost?
A street in Doel Town that recorded a crowd of the stall turns to be a desolate place full of critical murals. There is no more the smell of freshly-baked bread as well as the law that governs the residents. A nuclear power plant, some plans for the port of Antwerp expansion, and some people who occupy the building for night clubs as well as some twenty-four traumatic inhabitants who are still there, all remain.
Federik Sølberg captures the activities in Doel through the life of several people that still remain. Various threats to their mental and physical health are compiled by Sølberg in a film entitled Doel (Federik Sølberg, 2018); a film that pictures a city in Belgium known as a ‘ghost town.’
The city of Doel holds various internal and external conflicts. An incident that Sølberg discovered is a particular party is utilizing the conflict as a tourism attraction. An attraction as if it is a display case selling the trauma of its citizens that can be enjoyed from the window bus while listening to the tour guide’s explanation.
The tourists relish the town, Doel, differently. Some of them get involved in street racing on a lonely road while the others try their physical strength out by destroying an abandoned building. All those activities are captured by Sølberg from a distance as if he wants to show his position that is different from the tourists.
Federik Sølberg is not a Belgian living in Doel, but he is a Dutch who got interested in that ghost town while he is going on a tour. It is all explained by Liam Cristello in his interview for Northeastern University. He wrote that Sølberg had a desire to tell about this city began to emerge when he saw various kinds of factories, refiners, and nuclear power plants while he started entering the town. However, Sølberg finds an obstacle in which his position is just an ordinary tourist; a position that does not differentiate him from other tourists on that bus.
Sølberg’s attempt to keep his distance away is seen through the visual characters of Doel (2018). The characters that Sølberg built speaks honesty as a filmmaker. He does not appear as a tourist nor a resident. He observes all the activities of his chosen subjects from a distance. There are no close-up shots to show the details. Contextually, this visualization explains that the city is not really dead even from the eyes of foreigners.
Sølberg’s visualization tells a story that a ghost town, a label for Doel, might go wrong. This region is still a place for its residents to do their activities, not a dead town. As a tourist, he tells all the phenomena through a subject that is attached to their place. Humans and their space are connected and they interact one to another as if it is a cow that is in a lawn craving for green grass, an aunt with a television on, or a kitchen with a tea maker and their Xanax.
Sølberg utilizes his freedom to observe the subject as if it were a ghost. It can come through those personal boundaries that have never been reached by a foreigner or a tourist. On the other hand, this visualization raises a big question; if it were true that Doel is a ghost town, then who exactly is haunted by whom? Who is the ghost then?
Written by Annisa Rachmatika
Translated by Shafira Rahmasari