The British one-hit wonder Richard Sanderson is best known for singing about love, a kind of love constructed only for half way strangers, imaginations that he projects onto a single person. She could be everything! She could be the real fantasy. He could live in his dreams, so dreams could become reality, he wants the dream to be true so badly, he searches for the reality in it, he dissects it, he rethinks it, and he searches after it where he knows that it’ll be found. In it he sees only what confirms his search, the reality of it becomes clearer and clearer, and the dream becomes paler and paler, the more he searches. In the end he finally reaches his goal and there in his head the dream is real.

The Covid 19 pandemic makes the fluid and blurred border zone between reality and dreams more visible than ever. When suddenly everyone started living in their own isolated bubble, far away from real social interactions, grounded reality was out to lunch. With face-to-face encounters reduced to an absolute minimum, perception is dependent on personalized Google search results, Amazon clicks, and customized Instagram ads. Thus, one is forced only deep- er into one’s own reality without a true engagement with the outside world. This way a mutual reality seems impossible, and perhaps then empathy functions as a new belief system.

This reader brings together contributions from artists and writers who were part of the TROPEZ summer program of 2020. Together they form a very subtle and empathetic idea of this reality. The contributions are characterized by empathy, a sense of emptiness and absence, humanized objects, and fictional places…

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