Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hostings 12 - GHost-dance II

GHost presents the second in a new series of Hostings – 'GHost-dance' – exploring the idea of ghosts as cultural and political movement.

Hostings 12: GHost-dance II
21st May  6.30 - 9.30
please arrive at 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start

Central St Martins College of Arts and Design
Studio Theatre
Granary Square
(near Kings Cross over and underground stations)

Gen Doy, Song for the Deaf and Blind
Mitsu Salmon, Skating
Christian Weaver, Trillando en el cajón: mediating positive and negative forces in the realm of the dead through music and dance
Michelle Hannah, BLACKCAT
SaVAge K'Lub : Rosanna Raymond – Sistar S’pacific, Emine, Jo Walsh, 
Dr Mark James Hamilton, SaVAge SEAnce: An Invitation to Activate Your Ancestry.
Installation by Jennie Fagerstrom

Gen Doy,  Song for the Deaf and Blind

Song for the Deaf and Blind was first performed in early 2013 at the Huguenot Cemetery in Wandsworth Town, south London, where it was recorded for an installation. This performance develops some key themes of Gen Doy’s work….the attempt to bear witness to, and to remember, people subjected to injustice and violence by forces of the state, the importance of history and those marginalised by mainstream historical narratives, the power of site-specific commemorative acts and the ways in which the past returns not as nostalgia, but to come into collision with the present.

Gen Doy was a lecturer and researcher for many years at De Montfort University before taking early retirement to develop her art practice. She lives in London, and has two grown-up sons. Her works have been exhibited, installed, and broadcast on radio.

Gen works with written and spoken texts, field-recordings, still and moving images, and performance, to construct narratives that are not linear, but suggestive and open to creative interpretation by the listener/viewer. The voice has become important in her work, as she exploits its sensual and seductive potential, to bring to light and sound people and events hidden or forgotten. The words of people from the past, and emotions from barely smouldering embers, pass through the flesh of her body and live again in her voiced breath. Her aim is to make poetic art with “guts”.

Christian Weaver,  Trillando en el cajón: mediating positive and negative forces in the realm of the dead through music and dance.

In the 21st century Cuban capital, Havana, and throughout much of the island, communities of diverse and mixed origins dance with the ghosts of their ancestors on a daily basis. The ceremony known variously as ‘cajón pa’ los murtos’, ‘cajón espiritual’, ‘cajón pa’egun’, or simply ‘un cajón’ makes use of espiritist techniques, along with sentimental, spiritual and ritual elements of various religions to extract useful advice, guidance and cleansing from ancestor spirits. The ‘cajón espiritual’ has its roots among Cuba’s marginalised and disposed who sought reassurance and support from both their direct ancestors and various international ancestor spirits who’s repute or power made them attractive as guides. The tools they chose were simply those at hand, and whose efficacy was already established to them. Not the least of these being drumming (in this case on wooden boxes, from where the ceremony derives its name, cajón), singing and dancing, as participatory acts. Although the cajón includes potent elements and symbols taken from a range of influences (including Lukumí, and Native American), the principal elements are derived from Catholic and Congo religious practices, and to a lesser, but still important, extent, Kardecism. The process through which these forces are meditated and usefulness extracted, is known as trillando (from the Spanish verb trillar, to thresh). Powerful religious and spiritual fragments are threshed together within the ritually controlled environment of the cajón in order that the beneficial can be separated from the unavoidable (and balancing) negative. This paper examines the central role of music and dance in the process of trillando, how social cohesion is encouraged through participation in these activities, and the relationship with the dead enacted in order that social usefulness is extracted and exploited by the community.

As an initiated drummer, Christian Weaver regularly performs ritual music for ceremonies in Havana. He has researched the music and dance of Afro-Cuban religions, and the vernacular music of Cuba’s urban poor, since 1994. He was awarded his PhD in Ethnomuiscology in 2010.

Mitsu Salmon, Skating
I studied and performed the Butoh dance form in Japan for three years. Butoh emerged after WW2 and sought to embody ancestors, ghosts and darker aspects of the psyche. In this piece I draw from Butoh's use of possession and exploration of the unconscious.
'Skating' is a dance/ theatre piece about embodying histories, searching for identity and failure.
The piece begins with looking for a role model as a Japanese American young girl and being unable to find one. Then while watching the Olympics with my grandparents, who are from Japan, I discovered the Olympic ice skater Kristy Yamaguchi. Afterwards I began ice-skating. Throughout the piece I speak of my family's history, that of my grandmother growing up in Japan during WW2 and my grandfather being Japanese in the USA army. My grandfather was in the USA occupational forces in Japan and his fellow soldiers were in internment camps during the war in the states.
While imitating Kristy Yamaguchi through movement, projected footage of the ice-skater herself is intersected with film of the USA occupation of Japan.
I fall repeatedly, failing to achieve an ideal Japanese American identity and also struggling to shed my family histories. The dance is how my body holds the painful histories of my ancestries - ghosts of war and assimilation.
­'Skating' explores the intersection of personal history to cultural history. The piece begins with humour and story telling and builds to a dance where my ancestors ghosts ate channeled and exorcised.
Mitsu Salmon is currently a MFA student in performance at the School for the Art Institute in Chicago. She creates original performance and visual works, which fuse multiple disciplines and cultures. She was born in Los Angeles, California and studied experimental theatre and painting at NYU. She has lived and created work in India, England, Germany, Amsterdam, Japan and Bali. She has presented at places such as Performance Space 122, Dance Theatre Workshop, Highways Performance Space, Links Hall, the Berlin Performance Art Festival and the London Performance Art Festival.

Michelle Hannah, BLACKCAT
"There is a strong sense of Romanticism in my practice, mainly in the roles which sound, performance and expanded cinema has in tackling the themes of metaphysics and science fiction. BLACKCAT is a performance of an appropriated and fragmented version of Bowie’s Cat People by means of a vocal processor. The starting point of this is from its esoteric femininity to create BLACKCAT as a visual presentation of channeling vocals and cosmic noise as form, presented as a dispersed engagement between myself as ‘blind ‘ ethereal performer and you as a viewer. I wear theatrical white blind contacts to erase my sight. Blinded and struck for a moment, this ‘illuminated singer’ no longer discerns the limits of the room. I become at once trapped in the point of darkness and light."
Michelle Hannah is a Glasgow based artist born in Alexandria, Scotland and a graduate from the Master of Fine Art course at Glasgow School of Art. Selected exhibitions/performances/screenings include NGCA, Modern Edinburgh Film School, CGP London, Whitely Arts Festival, University of London, Vetlanda Museum, Glasgow Project Rooms, Gi 2012, Dresden Film Festival, CCA, Generator Projects, Embassy Gallery and is now the curator of a performance and video based event under the theme and title 'NITEFLIGHTS' which will appear throughout Glasgow.

The SaVAge K'Lub - Rosanna Raymond – Sistar S’pacific, Emine, Jo Walsh, Dr Mark James Hamilton: SaVAge SEAnce: An Invitation to Activate Your Ancestry.

"Our dead are woven into our souls
like the hypnotic music of bone flutes:
we can never escape them."
Albert Wendt
This SEAnce is a participatory presentation, inviting those gathered to experience a core concept informing the SaVAge K'Lub's creativity: even the long-dead are nearby. A performance will occur (a word used in its widest and least defined sense). The deeds enacted will aid those present to call upon potentials immanent in their human being, in their genetic material. Ancestry will be addressed as a vital force, a sustaining resource.
Albert Refiti (Samoan visual arts scholar), writing of an earlier K'Lub event in Canada, states that Raymond refuses to relegate ancestors to a mythical past, and addresses them as available and present, located within one’s body. Raymond, says Refiti, embraces the tensions of tradition and contemporaneity prominent in—but not limited to—cross-cultural artwork. The K'Lub site their presentation at the intersection of polarised values, seeking relationship between cosmopolitan and village-centric values, engaging with the spectral phantom of sameness and the haunting substance of difference.
In the SEAnce, the K'Lub will elaborate on Polynesian protocols of meeting and invocation to invite attendees to establish a position between the Earth Mother and the Sky Father. Through simple communal movement and vocalisation, these elemental ancestors will be evoked. Subsequent deeds will seek out connections to ancestral Mountains, Rivers, Lands, Houses and Forebears. Here the collective may begin to individuate. Multiple perspectives will be entertained.
For some gathered, it is possible that a deep sense of ancestry may be contacted. At the same time, it might be that the nostalgia, Romanticism, and exotica are indulged. And what of lineages beyond bloodlines? The cross-currents created by cultural adoption and appropriation will be supported. The K'Lub does not guard against the disruption of categories—authentic and original meets fictive and faux. Mindful of the layered significance of the Ghost Dance proper, the SEAnce will ask not whose the ancestor is, but what this ancestor can do for the emancipation of all.
The SaVage K'Lub is a London-based interdisciplinary collective of artists and scholars led by Raymond. The group explores: the relationships between experiences of difference and belonging; complex intercultural affiliations; continuations of native and migratory narratives; things eclipsed by the fray of dominant communities' interactions. The K'Lub has a special interest in the combination of careful craft in all disciplines (including the continuation of traditional skills) with the vitality of parody, satire and hybridity to delight and motivate, producing art which communicates social commentary and proposes departures toward new philosophies. 

Skogsrå Jennie Fagerstrom
Jennie Fagerstrom brings intimate lanterns to light the loss of way and figures of the non existence to cause erasure of the real. Images referencing the female skogsrå of nordic mythology, seductively luring men to their doom in the lost depth of the forest.
Born in Sweden, lives and works in London.
Studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design, London.
She uses the body and movement as a means of inspiration and expression to create sequences. Translating her ideas onto the fragile nature of paper, supported by low tech and light. Her work touches on the notion of romanticism and nostalgia.
Recent showings and exhibitions-
St Leonards Church LCV event March 2013 " Follow the Lanterns. The Sea and I EP launch with London Contemporary Voices"
Stroud SITE Festival 2012 May, group exhibit "Golden is Silence"
Studio 23 Netil House London June 2012
Coming soon-
Clerkenwell Design Week London May 2013
Performance and installation night Stockholm, Sweden 25 May 2013

Friday, 19 April 2013

Hostings 11 -GHost-dance I Photo Album

Marcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the NetherlandsMarcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the NetherlandsMarcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the NetherlandsMarcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the NetherlandsMarcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the NetherlandsMarcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the Netherlands
Marcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the NetherlandsDavid Jacques  - The Irlam House BequestDavid Jacques  - The Irlam House BequestDavid Jacques  - The Irlam House BequestDavid David Jacques (Artist) - The Irlam House Bequest 1Chris Moffat  - Politics and the Ghost's Demand
Chris Moffat  - Politics and the Ghost's DemandChris Moffat - Politics and the Ghost's DemandChris Moffat  - Politics and the Ghost's DemandChris Moffat  - Politics and the Ghost's DemandAlan Murdie - Ghosts and Spirits in the Court RoomAlan Murdie - Ghosts and Spirits in the Court Room
Alan Murdie - Ghosts and Spirits in the Court RoomAlan Murdie - Ghosts and Spirits in the Court RoomMarcy Saude - - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the Netherlands

GHost-dance, a set on Flickr.

On the 17th April three brilliant presentations and one incredible film initiated a new GHost dialogue. The spectres of ghosts as cultural and political initiators were made present and not past.

Thank you to David Jacques, Alan Murdie, Marcy Saude and Chris Moffat. Thanks also to Birgitta Hosea and the Centre for Performance at CSM for hosting us.
To be continued...

Here are some images from the night.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Hostings 11: GHost-dance I

GHost presents a new series of Hostings – 'GHost-dance' – exploring the idea of ghosts as cultural and political movement.

Hostings 11: GHost-dance I
17th April  6.30 - 9.30

Central St. Martins College of Arts and Design
LVMH Theatre E0003
Granary Square


David Jacques (Artist) - The Irlam House Bequest (film screening)

Alan Murdie (Barrister) - Ghosts and Spirits in the Court Room

Marcy Saude (Artist) - Spirit Conjuring and Laying Down Hoodoo Tricks to Combat Anti-cultural  Austerity in the Netherlands

Chris Moffat (Historian) - Politics and the Ghost's Demand

Tickets are FREE - you may book yours here:

GHost-dance I Programme


David Jacques film is inspired by the history of trade union banners and the entrepreneur George Tutil, whose workshop dominated banner production in the 19th century. The work represents items from a fictional subversive banner workshop with a possible paranormal function, discovered in an abandoned flat in Irlam House, a tower block in Bootle.
David Jacques, was the winner of the Liverpool Art Prize 2010. 

"Irlam House is a sixteen story tower block in Bootle, Merseyside. Sometime in the late 1980’s the resident Caretaker came into possession of a substantial collection of drawings. The drawings came to our attention when he recently brought one study to the Conservation Department claiming it to be suffering from ‘vibration issues’.
After some deliberation we have identified the works as composite templates and graphics for banner designs, of the type made popular amongst the British Labour Movement. They were retrieved from a flat on the 14th floor that had apparently been vacated without forewarning by its tenants. The Caretaker has written extensively about the works in the context of his PHD studies (titled: The telepathic turn; affective states, autonomous sociality & overcoming the bio-political.).
The occupants, by all accounts unseen throughout their tenure, had also used the accommodation as a makeshift design workshop and had secured funding through the ‘Enterprise Allowance Scheme’. Though for some unknown reason they had abandoned this venture before making any attempt to market their wares. The caretaker, whilst apparently maintaining some form of communication with the group became evasive when asked of their present whereabouts.
Aside from the works, we have an amount of information gleaned from the Caretaker that mostly recounts the group’s composition and methodology relating to their production. He professed to never having met any of them, though he thought that they probably originated from a variety of nationalities. He had a tendency to be dismissive of the works and stressed that the significance of the group’s activities should primarily be gauged by “their capacity for imagining in the midst of political struggle” and that this stemmed from “what we might term contaminating affects - arising out of a social interaction between bodies”.
He felt that the group were creating works that had no representational basis, although they were concerned with “objects emerging as part of the sensual experience of the surrounding environs”. He believed that they were immersed in experimentation, analysing craft and design aesthetics, testing the limits of language. Though on the face of it, their modus operandi was strangely paradoxical. It seems as though they had set up, or had proposed to activate an archetypical ‘Fordist’ assembly line dealing in specific ‘types’ of output.
Though he recognised that his own interests were for the most part tied to the realm of praxis, the caretaker joined in with a passive examination of the collection - “the residue”. During this his mood changed as he surprisingly opened up to speak about the group’s identification with ‘the occult’ and a possible engagement with paranormal phenomena. He believed that the designs were “invoked through some process of automatism” but my conjecture about the energy generated by the group possibly being locked into the works was met with bemusement.
Ultimately, he could only admit to feeling ambivalent about our proposal to exhibit the collection. He finally commented that the works “might resonate, find a frequency …maybe even enter into dialogue with the dead artists also showing therein” but that he “personally thought they’d be better off left out in the street.”"
Biography: Exhibitions include: 2012 Kirche St. Theodor, Koln Germany (solo), Shanghart / Openeye Shanghai China & Liverpool (group), 15th Antimatter Film Festival Victoria BC Canada, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York UK, 2011 Walker Gallery, Liverpool 'The Irlam House Bequest' (solo), Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool ‘Democratic Promenade’ (group), 2010 Liverpool Art Prize (group) UK, Northern Art Prize (group)
 Leeds UK, 2009 Contemporary Art Norwich EAST International 09 (group), Northern Print Biennale, Newcastle (group), 
EASTvideo, screenings at various venues across the UK (group), Trafo Gallery, Budapest, Hungary 'EASTgoesEAST' (group), Royal College of Art, London 'Por Convencion Ferrer' (solo), 2008 Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool 'Next up' (group), 2005 Triskel Arts Centre, Cork Ireland 'As if in a dream dreamt by another' (solo), The Model , Niland Arts Centre, Sligo, Ireland 'As if in a dream dreamt by another' (solo), Galerie Gulliver, Cologne, Germany 'Allotment', 20

By Alan Murdie, LL.B, Barrister

In the long history of English law there are many references to ghosts, spirits and supernatural powers. Whilst ghosts and spirits have provided a useful source of metaphors for judges and in judicial pronouncements there have also been many cases where the courts have had to rule in cases where a party holds a genuine belief in ghosts, spirits or supernatural forces. Ghosts and spirits have previously featured in civil cases determining legal rights in areas as diverse as contract (Lyon v Home (1860), copyright (Cummins v Bond (1926) rent control (McGhee v Hackney London Borough Council [1969] family law (Sultana v Islam (1997) and in employment (Great Manchester Police v Power [2009]).
In addition, since 1974 there have been a growing number of criminal cases in England and Wales where the courts have had to examine the belief in ghosts and spiritual entities in the context of the law. These have includes the case of R v Young [1996] where members of a jury used a ouija board to try and ascertain the guilt of the accused in a murder trial by attempting to contact the spirit of the victim (Young has gone on to become one of the leading authorities on jury deliberations). In R v Gallivan [2000] the Court of Appeal had to consider an appeal from a mother in Barry, Wales convicted of arson which claimed was an attempt to rid herself of a poltergeist. Most serious of all have been cases of alleged possession where persons have gone on to kill. A case in Barnsley in 1974 when a mentally-ill man killed his wife following an exorcism led to the Church of England re-organising its procedures and ruling that an exorcism can only be conducted with the permission of a Bishop. Since then there have been a number of cases where persons claiming to be possessed have been before the criminal courts, the most notorious being the case of Antoine [2000] where the House of Lords had to review the procedure under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 and the defence of diminished responsibility in the case of a teenager who murdered a 15 year-old boy on a satanic altar following a message obtained via a ouija board.
This talk will examine the topic of ghosts and spirits in the court today and the implications for the law and wider society. Biography: Alan Murdie is a Barrister.  He is also a long time member and chairman of the Ghost Club. As well as his own extensive archive of material, he also has access to the archives of ghost hunter extraordinaire Andrew Green. He has written several books on ghosts including, Haunted Brighton (2006) and Haunted Bury St Edmunds (2007).

Marcy Saude (perfomative talk)

For this GHosting, I will perform a hoodoo ritual (lay down a trick) that conjures the spirit of a 
Do they owe us a living?
Course they do, of course they do
Owe us a living?
Course they do, of course they do
Do they owe us a living?
Of course they fucking do!

In my work, I am interested in the relationship between conjuring rituals and performance art, framed within a larger context of resisting the intertwined ideologies of capitalism and progress.

For this GHosting, I will report on the performance of a hoodoo spell that conjures the spirit of a deceased person and asks them to aid in the payment of money that is owed. This particular trick is generally performed in the context of a personal debt; however, I am connecting the issue of money owed with the implementation of austerity and the resulting de-funding of the arts that is ongoing in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Inspired by the African-American syncretic folk-magic tradition of hoodoo, re-emerging demands for a global minimum income that is not tied to “work,” artist participation in anti-austerity protests, and of course anarchist band par excellence Crass, I will act as an envoy for all artists living and working in the Netherlands (regardless of nationality) and ask my chosen spirit world emissary to intervene with specific individuals responsible for cultural funding in the current Dutch cabinet.

In addition to documenting the ritual, the talk will include background on the practice of hoodoo, and presentation of prior projects concerning the intersection of folk magic, aesthetics, and radical politics. Additionally, I detailed instructions will be provided allowing members of the audience to replicate the spell and conjure their chosen spirit in response to their own political needs.
Biography: Marcy Saude’s work involves subjects such as marginal histories, the landscape, counterculture, and language, and have screened at venues and festivals including International film Festival Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Torino Film Festival (Italy), EMAF (European Media Art Festival, Germany), Ann Arbor Film Festival (Michigan), Anthology Film Archives (NYC), Other Cinema (San Francisco), and the Echo Park Film Center (LA). She is interested in DIY aesthetics, appropriation, homesteading, the relationship between the natural and built environments and politics, expanded notions of non-fiction and time-based media, and folk magic. She completed an MFA from the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder and currently works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Chris Moffat
This paper considers the force of the ghost’s gaze in modern politics. Rather than the willful conjuring of ghosts for politics, by political actors, I want to ask how ghosts themselves conjure forms of politics. Can the dead hold the present accountable? How might these revenant figures incite, pushing time ‘out of joint’? Writing in 1855, Walt Whitman reflected on the ‘corpses of young men’, struck down by the ‘weapons of tyrants’; they live elsewhere, the poet contends, with ‘unslaughter’d vitality’, their spirit stalking invisibly over the earth, ‘whispering, counseling, cautioning.’ I want to explore the implications of this spectral voice: how might horizons of political possibility shift in the presence of ghosts?
Whitman’s words appear, 76 years later, scrawled in the pages of a prison notebook kept by the young Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh. The 23-year-old was executed by colonial authorities in March 1931, famously embracing death and kissing the hangman’s noose at Lahore Central Jail, shouting Inqilab Zindabad (‘Long Live Revolution’) with his final breath. Perhaps, following Whitman, he anticipated the vivid afterlife awaiting him. Recalled today as shaheed-e-azam (‘the great martyr’), Bhagat Singh persists as a revered and enormously popular figure in twenty-first century India and Pakistan, repeatedly invoked in politics. This paper considers the implications of Bhagat Singh’s enduring appeal, its interaction with narratives of violence and self-sacrifice, but also directs attention to the erratic, eruptive potentiality carried by his promiscuous ghost: his incitement of the present, his refusal to be contained. Reflecting on contemporary formations of dissent in North India and Lahore, Pakistan – from youth organisations to militant associations to street theatre groups – I will consider how activists respond to Bhagat Singh’s spectre, the demand implicit in his presence, and the dissensual resonance of Inqilab Zindabad in twenty-first century politics.
Biography:  Chris Moffat is working towards a PhD in History at the University of Cambridge and is interested in both the anthropology and philosophy of the discipline. His thesis considers the relationship between history and the construction of political futures, focusing specifically on ideas of dissent in contemporary India and Pakistan.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

GHostings 11 and 12 - Call for submissions

GHost-dance: ghosts as cultural and political movement
GHost Hostings 11 and 12 a call for submissions

Call for papers, presentations, performance and dance for an interdisciplinary seminar and performance event – the so-called 'GHost Hostings'.   Hostings 11 and 12 take the GHost project's research in a new direction. 

Deadline for submissions – March 16th

The Hostings are supported by the Centre for Performance at CSM, University of the Arts.
Venue:  CSM, University of the Arts, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA
Dates:        17th April, 6pm - 9pm – LVMH Lecture Theatre
                   21st May, 6pm – 9pm – Studio Theatre (dance and performance space)

“Standing on the hill where so many people were buried in a common grave, standing there in that cold darkness under the stars, I felt tears running down my face. I can’t describe what I felt. I heard the voices of the long-dead ghost dancers crying out to us.”
(Leonard Crow Dog, during the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee, 1973).

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, self proclaimed prophet Wovoka, of the Paiute people, became the figure-head for the Ghost Dance - a religious movement adopted by a significant number of the Native American Nations. Central to this belief was a communal ritualised dance, inducing a trance state, in which it was believed the souls of the dead and living would be reunited and their land returned to them. In the 1970s the Ghost Dance was revived as part of the Red Power Movement, with the activists group AIM (American Indian Movement) at its forefront, fighting for Native American civil rights. The ghost in the Ghost Dance was a revitalising force for a people whose land and loved ones had been taken from them and who were facing cultural genocide.

The Spiritualist movement in nineteenth century U.S.A provided a forum in which women, whose role in society was very much surpressed, could give voice to their opinions in a public arena. Appeals for women’s emancipation and the abolition of slavery could be expressed under the guise of a ghost voice, allegedly channelled through the medium.

At the same time in Europe, in the opening sentences of Marx and Engle’s Communist Manifesto, “A Spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism.” Communism could be said to have been conceptualised as a powerful ghostly presence, waiting to materialise and take shape within the living as a force for revolutionary change.

GHost is seeking proposals for thirty minute papers, performances, performative presentations, contemporary or traditional dance and ritual performance encompassing all disciplines and fields of interest.

Submissions may address, but not be restricted to, one or more of the following:
·Ghosts as a political or cultural voice within marginalised or disenfranchised communities.
·The embodying of ghosts within ritual and performance to instigate socio-cultural or political change.
·Ghosts as a healing and unifying presence within marginalised cultural groups or genders.
·The appropriation of the ghost-dance, and other forms of spirit–possession, within contemporary art.
·The ghost narrative as a political device within rhetoric, writing, film, visual art or popular culture (fiction and non-fiction).

Please send a (working) title and an abstract of approximately 300 - 400 words, a brief biography and, if applicable, a couple of photographs or links to film clips documenting your performance or dance.

Please send submissions to Sarah Sparkes and Aldworth Howard at:

Friday, 8 February 2013

Hostings 10 - A Haunted Reproduction

February 16th, 5.30 – 7.00pm
T +442072429604 M +447801703871

Between 5.30-7.00pm, in response to Sharon Kivland's exhibition, Sarah Sparkes of GHost invites Birgitta Hosea, Peter Suchin and Sarah Wood to interrogate ideas pertaining to 'haunting' in both Kivland's work and the gallery space itself. This evening's Hosting will initiate an apocryphal archiving of Reproductions II – an immaterial revenant to haunt the invited guests.

Birgitta Hosea is a digital artist, and Research Leader for Performance and Course Director of M.A. Character Animation at CSM. Her current work investigates photographic manipulation and theatricality in Victorian Spirit Photography and mediumistic performances.

Peter Suchin is an artist and critic, contributing to Art Monthly, Frieze, The Guardian, and many other journals.

Sarah Sparkes is an artist, curator and researcher.  She leads the GHost project. Initiated in 2008, GHost provides a supporting platform enabling invited guests to visually and conceptually manifest and interrogate the idea of the ghost.

Sarah Wood is Senior Lecturer at The School of English, University of Kent. She is Managing Editor of The Oxford Literary Review and a founder of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.

'GHost Hostings 10:  A Haunted Reproduction' will be part of a day of closing events on Saturday 16th February for Sharons Kivland's exhibition Reproductions II.  Places are limited and must be reserved in advance.  Please email the gallery if you wish to attend:  INFO@DOMOBAAL.COM

On the final afternoon of Sharon Kivland’s exhibition Reproductions II

We cordially invite you to an afternoon of select walking tours, discussions, book presentations and hauntings,
these events are all free however numbers are strictly limited and places must be reserved on a first come basis: 
please contact the gallery. INFO@DOMOBAAL.COM 

Manifestations of GHost IV

After a break in 2011, to participate in Folkestone Triennial, GHost returned to St Johns to haunt this wonderful John Soane's church for the fourth time.  The exhibition and program of events, as in previous GHost shows,  featured moving image installations, performance and film screenings, but this time with the addition of live sound performances.
Artworks in the exhibition were selected in response to a programme of interdisciplinary seminars - the Hostings - held at the University of London throughout 2012.  The Hostings together with GHost's programme of visual arts exhibitions are designed to make manifest, and by extension examine, the aesthetics of ghosts and haunted spaces. This year GHost explored two themes: absence - haunted landscapes and presence - manifesting ghosts.

A separation between presence and absence was created by installing works that interrogate the idea of ghostly manifestations in the atrium and belfry and haunted landscape works within the gallery and nave.

Thanks to all at St John Bethnal Green for being wonderful hosts.
Thank you to the GHost artists and to all the guests for making this such a memorable event.


Calum F Kerr's, epic performance Threshold Figure bridged the space between presence and absence.   Positioned across the imposing doorway of the nave of St Johns he demanded, in a doom-laden voice, that guests offer a sacrifice in exchange for a coin thus gaining passage through the wings of his expansive gate-like cloak.  Many made that crossing,  feeling their way through the darkness and cloying draperies of The Threshold figure's cloak, to emerge blinking in the light from the movie screen beyond, perhaps reflecting on the wisdom of their sacrifice.

Mario Lautier Vella has experienced an actual haunting at his home and made the work Domestic in response to this. Vella draped the left wing of the atrium with curtains; falling the whole length of the high curving stair well they created the distinct  feeling that something was hiding behind them.  In the corner, a mirrored box sat on top of a mirrored cabinet casting  rainbow reflections all about. Inside the box a film featured a sinister masked figure with what could be either its double or a reflection.  The drawers of the cabinet contained the paraphernalia of ghost hunting, exorcisms the séance room and the two masks from the film – is this an invitation to be both ghost and ghost hunter?

Anne Robinson's An Occulting Light was projected onto a large screen in the right atrium of St Johns. The screen,  draped with white cloth, was reminiscent of a ship's sail.  Robinson's eerie and mesmerising film featured footage from the 'the cruel sea' slowed down to such a degree that each frame seemed to melt and slide into the next, the image breaking down into a surface evocative of shimmering reflections on the ocean at night.  The accompanying soundtrack featured the artist singing sea shanties and nautical hymns in a voice so distorted and inhuman that it sent shivers down the listeners back as they listened on their cordless headphones.

Paul Coates observes that ‘both film and the Spiritualist materialize the dead’ (Coates 1984: 121)8*; or at least they give the illusion of doing so. Artist Birgitta Hosea's performance Medium  powerfully demonstrated both these 'illusions'.
 In the cavernous belfry space the artist performed the actions of a medium in trance state, producing automatic writing onto an electronic drawing tablet upon her lap – the contemporary equivalent of spirit slate writing. Behind Hosea the marks appeared simultaneously on a large screen whilst she voiced the question, “is anybody there?” Rapping noises issued from concealed speakers, seemingly in response. Images, in the projected film, made using digital animation techniques, featured the artist enacting the roles of notable female Victorian mediums and an array of spectral figures, fading in and out, against a backdrop of swirling cotton wool - a substance favoured by Victorian spirit photographers to simulate ectoplasm. The insubstantial projected images appear to be emanating from the artist whilst at the same time she attempts to merge her corporeal body with their illusory presence.
*Thanks Tom Ruffles, whose excellent book Ghost Images: cinema and the afterlife was invaluable for me own research and in which drew my attention to Paul Coates article in New Left Review.


Artists Arabella Lee and Pauline Thomas frequently collaborate in the creation of moving image installation within buildings and other architectural structures. Both Lee's and Thomas's work was installed in the Gallery space, with projections made direct onto a doorway (Lee) or wall (Thomas).

Lee's works Illion East portrayed the landscape, as a haunting presence, with respect to both the notion of tragic memory embedded within a specific locale and within the dreamlike image sequence leading the viewer deeper into a landscape of overgrown pathways and mossy ruins. The film is accompanied by a narrative constructed through the voices of two elderly neighbours from the area. They talk of the places tragic past and their stories haunt the images.

photograph by Pauline Thomas
In Thomas's film Loomings  the ghost-like outline of a ship emerges through sea-fog. The presence of a vast ocean is conjured up within the modestly sized frame of the projected image. For the viewer, the effect is one of disruption to spacial perceptions, as the materiality of the underlying structures absents itself beneath the illusory presence of the seascape projected onto its surface. The half concealed ship, suddenly making an appearance, gliding though the fog, is more insubstantial than a sea mist, the only concrete presence is the stone wall into which it is projected.
The landscape, in both Lee's and Thomas's installations, becomes a threshold space; a portal into an uncanny vista into which the mind may travel and the body feels it could almost follow.

Phillip Raymond Goodman's moving image installation Homeward shared the gallery space with Lee and Thomas and also made use of the infrastructures already in the building. Goodman placed a small portable DVD player upon a music stand he found in the Gallery. The piece could only be viewed and listened to by one person at a time, which together with the screen's small scale, gave the work an intimate and personal quality. The looped film featured footage, shot from the top deck, of a bus journey at night. The landscape here was urban and banal, yet rendered wondrous and otherworldly by 'the noise' and distortions created by the digital camera and the bus windows. The disembodied , recorded voice, announcing the names of the bus stops, gave the work a rhythmical, hypnotic quality which worked conceptually with its placement on the music stand.


Throughout GHost IV a programme of artist films on the theme of Haunted Landscapes was show on the big screen in the nave.

Sharon Kivland's Reisen: The limped waters of mountain lakes, The snow on alpine peaks and The smoke of steam trains consists of three landscape image sequences, organised thematically. For some time, Kilvand has been collecting found photographic images and postcards. The Reisen trilogy features re-photographed, antique black and white landscape photographs from this collection. Re-photographed from old postcards, each film is subtitled ‘Every year Sigmund Freud went on holiday with his brother, Alexander’. The suggestion is that the viewer is receiving postcards from Freud, direct from the past. The images may be a reference to Freud's own neurosis around trains and train journeys.  These sublime landscape are also archetypal symbols loaded with psychoanalytical meaning. Projected on such a large scale and framed by the imposing architecture of a church nave, Kivland's films took on an epic and theatrical quality – a sermon on the haunting nature of photography.

Neil Wissink's Pugwash plays with documentation and fabrication. Footage, of an abandoned farm in Nova Scotia belonging to Wissink's ancestors was payed to a medium, whose live reading of the footage was recorded and subsequently used as the soundtrack for the film. Other sound effects such bird song, possibly from field recordings or live sound from the locations, merges with the mediums high, sing-song voice. The landscapes are empty of people, only gravestones, or abandoned buildings remain as evidence of human habitation, and, all the while the medium suggests ghosts - absent beings in a distant place.

Sally Waterman's February is one of a series of short poetic films; documenting the artists experience of death and loss, it serves as a visual diary. A sea voyage to the Isle of Wight, to attend a funeral of a close family friend, is portrayed via a series of images shot through the boat's window.   It is a world of water.  The waves beyond the window,  the Water droplets on its glass,  read as a metaphor for grieving – tears in an overwhelming ocean of grief. Donna McKevitt's haunting musical score adds to the feeling of sorrow. The final frame shows the pier as the boat is about to dock - the sudden ending of a journey.

 Tall towers in an otherwise empty landscape, stand ominously silent in the twilight. This was GRUNSKE, by Sabine Schöbel, a portrait of the Palace of the Republic in Berlin which once a symbol of nostalgia for the GDR. The towers have since been demolished and so watching the film could was something like viewing their ghosts. Skeletal already at the time of filming, they never -the-less seem impenetrable and eternal. The film switches between shots of the towers and passages where the screen is black and empty. During these 'black-outs' the noise recorded on sight could be heard at a high volume. The noise was displaced from it's corresponding image and effect was a jolt to the viewers senses and the ghosts of the towers entered the void space of the screen via auditory channels.

The landscape in Hayley Lock's Blue Light is a vast presence, serving as a stage or backdrop,  to the action played out by five awkward  characters inside a stately home. The house is Cromer Hall on the North Norfolk coast where Arthur Conan Doyle stayed and drew inspiration for his tale 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. Lock draws on stories of the ghost of The Black Shuck, a demon dog that is said to run the coastal and corpse paths from Sheringham to Overstrand and merges these with Enid Blighton's Secret Seven in the most delightfully creepy way. The narrators silken and somewhat sinister voice imbues his words with a magical quality. Together with the drone of the sound track and deliberate yet dream-like actions of the characters it makes for a bewitching experience. This enchantment was further enhanced by the smell of incense, which always pervades st. Johns. The motif of the dark glass which Lock refers to as her talisman, makes regular appearances, its dark reflective surface seems to hide impenetrable secrets.


On the night of Friday 7th December, GHost hosted an night of sound performances in the nave of st Johns.

Jude Cowan Montague opened the night with a wonderful improvised score upon the church organ. The old church organ is in clear view from the nave and organ music was swirling up into the rafters, but where was the organist – it looked as if the organ was uncannily playing itself? The old church organ is in fact defunct and Cowan Montague was concealed behind the altar playing the new one. Her playing - otherworldly carnival meets church processional - evoked the spirit of the film Carnival of Souls and drew served to summon the audience to take their seats in the pews and prepare themselves to be transported by haunted sounds-capes.

When the organ music ceased members of MYSTERIUM and myself slowly processed up the aisle of the nave – the processional performance has become a sort of GHost tradition introduced by Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly in 2008. Our processional route completed, the nave was plunged into darkness and STASIS 73 began their 30 minute live audio installation, LIVE_TRANSMISSION. 

In the darkness shadows, cast by the city lights outside, danced across the ceiling whilst STASIS 73 transported the 'congregation' into a haunted landscape conjured up from field recordings and live sound interventions. The work had a narrative feeling; it felt like experiencing a journey to someone else’s memory as so many good stories do. The sound-scape filled the nave as did the listeners own 'thought pictures'; the parameters of both space and time inside the church and without coming into question.

Through their performance, a musical evocation - to the self-portrait painting by the artist SAMUEL PALMER, MYSTERIUM embodied the role of correspondents between the spiritual and material world – a role which Palmer himself believed in. A projected self-portrait of the young Palmer gazed soulfully back at the audience. Combined with the sublimely spiritual sounds of Kevin Quigley and Christos Fanaras, Palmer's image become an almost material presence. MYSTERIUMS beautiful performance grew in intensity, coming to a euphoric crescendo which resonated through the both material and immaterial presences.

Anne Robinson's Alive Alive-O was given its debut screening and provided the perfect climactic ending to the night - its nautical theme following on perfectly from the Haunted sea film screening. In Alive Alive- O the film has been shot almost as if from the perspective of a ghost trapped inside the hull of an empty ruined ship. A familiar folk song provides the soundtrack, made in collaboration with David Cross, formerly of King Crimson, it is sung with powerful emotion by Anne herself. The shape of the boats hull is mirrored in the hammer beam roof of st Johns and, as Anne's ghost vocals culminate in a wailing cry of grief, we could all have been passengers in a ghost ship, lost souls adrift in the ocean.