Hostings 1 – Haunted Houses
Hostings 1 elucidated some common and peculiar behaviour traits attributed to ghosts both historically and in contemporary culture.
Kirsten Marie Raahauge (anthropologist) and Ivar Tønsberg (artist), Contextual Autism.
Magnus Irvin (artist), The Deadman Talks.
Stéphanie Sauget (historian), Haunted Houses with or without Ghosts?
20 October 2009 at 6.30pm, 2009 in the haunted Court Room of Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, WC1 7HU.
Kirsten Marie Raahauge and Ivar Tønsberg, ‘Contextual Autism’, talk and art presentation
This project deals with the notion of ghost from an anthropological and an artistic angle. The contextual autism of ghosting reveals itself as a sensation of in-betweeness in art as well as in everyday life. As a non-present presence the ghost flavours its host with ghastly sensations of something dim, vague, and indifferently deadpan. The artistic approach is trying to catch the poetics of ghosts, while the anthropologist is questioning haunted people about their real experiences of the unreal in haunted houses. The one haunts the other.
Magnus Irvin, ’The Deadman Talks’, performance
Living people rarely have the opportunity to communicate properly with the dead. We can seek out the guidance of spiritualists and mediums but all of these, both genuine and spurious are but secondary messengers. In the company of a Dead Man talking we are given a fascinating, first hand insight into the ways of death and an opportunity to share the concerns of a corpse that has not completely given up on life. His stories from beyond the grave raise the arcane issues of mind-numbing silence, fundamental human urges, senseless desecration and ornamental lakes. Many of us can spend our whole life without acknowledging the existence of the dead or even meeting a real dead person. Here is an opportunity.Warning to parents and minders: The Deadman’s views are frankly expressed. The feint-hearted and weak of spirit should be aware that he has been dead for a long time and doesn’t give a damn about social decorum.
Stéphanie Sauget, ‘Haunted Houses with or without Ghosts?’, talk
Most of the time, in the ghost stories of the Nineteenth Century, ghosts and haunted houses seem to be linked and connected, even in the parody of the genre. But this “obvious” link between haunted places and ghostly creatures is not that clear in spiritualist press articles or in the supposed “real” cases studied by the SPR (Society for Psychical Research) or other scientists. In fact, it seems that the definition of “what a ghost is” changed a lot between 1750 and 1950, both in Europe and in the United Stated.