Roën: Voluntary Apnea


‘Voluntary Apnea’ is the first stage in the process of drowning. It is the moment where the drowning person chooses not to breathe. The instinct not to breathe underwater is so strong that it overcomes the agony of running out of air. No matter how desperate the drowning person is, he doesn’t inhale until he’s on the verge of losing consciousness. While holding his last breath, the drowning person is aware of what will follow. Lack of oxygen to the brain causes a sensation of darkness closing in from all sides.

‘Voluntary Apnea’ is a short movie about a body, floating underneath the surface, in the deep blue, surrounded by sinking whales. A body experiencing the ultimate sensory experience while losing all of its senses. He reflects about these senses that become memories, he reflects about life, about his place in this dark void of banality, and all fears rushing deep inside of him. Where does silence begin? While being stuck in his own reality distortion field, the sinking body is having a poetic, existential conversation with himself.

To see at
Dallas Museum of Art

Section within the
Dallas Arts District

Roën (b. 1984, Brussels, Belgium) is a photographer and video director who’s currently living and working in Antwerp, Belgium. He studied photography at St-Lukas Art School Brussels and Scenography at the Royal Academy of Antwerp. His work includes themes of trickery and misidentification, encouraging a kind of delusion that distracts from our reality. Everything is staged, in order to reflect escapism and fictionalization of our daily world. He puts his characters on constructed, desolate and sometimes dark places as a nostalgic projection of their mind and feelings.

Gustaph is mostly known as one of the main collaborators of ‘Hercules & Love Affair’. A singer/songwriter and producer in his own right, he has worked with a variety of international artists (such as Zap Mama) and continues to develop his artistry in and out of Belgium.


A biennial public art event of light, video and sound.

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