A Gathering of Ghosts

Posted Nov. 28, 2020 by Ingrid Vranken

The past two weeks I spent in a residency with 7 other artists: Mihaela Brebenel, Mayfield Brooks, Rodrigo Batista, Rasa Alksnyte, Gosie Vervloessem, Mathieu Charles and Nahuel Cano. I invited them into my ongoing research on time, plants and ghosts. In my work I look through the lenses of ghosts and plants as expressions of different realities of time. Ghosts and plants can give us hints on how to live outside of linear time and practices of extractivism. Working and living with ghosts and plants is, for me, a political project – of which the goals are very clear: to contribute to the abolishment of racism, the abolishment of capitalism and the abolishment of ecological destruction. In turn making space for emergent regenerative cultures.

During the residency we talked about many things. We analysed linear time - the belief that there is a past, that flows neatly into the present and is then forever gone, and that there is a future as a consequence of the now that is clearly and defined ahead of us. This linear time, we believe, is a collective hallucination, a mental illness. Linear time as a disease that has spread over the world, a pandemic, pandemonium.

Ghosts point us at a different time – a time in which the past is never not now. A time that repeats, until there is justice. A time that is thick and layered. A time that branches out into multiple experiences of now, multiple worlds all happening at once.

I feel stuck in the repetition of linear time. I repeat the linear time of death, the deadline, while the universe is repeating circles.

Pandemonium; a gathering of daemons.

The clock turns out to be a kind of weapon, the clock is a weapon, and we are pushed to recognize linear time as an excruciating kind of violence, that we are not only putting onto ourselves, but also onto the more-than-human world. The deadline.

During our gathering of ghosts some wondered when and how we can experience a different way of being in time. Can we feel the thick layered time, which acknowledges the ghosts and the agency of what is no-longer and not-yet. The clock turns out to be a kind of weapon.

Some spoke about posession, nostalgia, shrines and whale bones. The deep time of fossilized whale bones.

Some spoke about undead and living ghosts – zombies, representing the spirits of those enslaved, trapped within their own flesh.
An excruciating kind of violence.

Some spoke about the nation state, as a space that is highly charged with bad deaths and their ghosts. The state as an technology of the repetition of oppression, the repetition of oppression, the repetition of oppression.
The state, obsessed with the fear of penetration. But ghosts have no boundaries.
Some spoke about possession. The clock turns out to be a weapon. Some are running in circles. Magic circles. Magic circles. Some spoke about possession.

Some started to dream about spells to undo linear time. Overlaying a new repetition. A new repetition, shaking with gravity, a floppy conjuring. Spelling something out that is illegible.
A repetition is only interesting if it is a rehearsal.

Some listened for interference and danced with the ghosts inhabiting their own bodies. Trying to become a circuit, become a circuit that is at the same time listening and speaking. Listening.

Some listened to the ghosts that are fighting for justice, some want to be their allies. Some feel held by their presence and see them as allies.

Pandaemonium. The deep time of whale bones.

Some were exhilarated by the allowance to be violent themselves. Some wanted a sacrifice.

A repetition is only interesting if it is a rehearsal.

Some were grateful for sadness.

A floppy conjuring

Some are becoming both alive and dead simultaneously.

A repetition is only interesting if it is a rehearsal.