‘Grandma’s Ghost stories international’ by Joyce Radsey, Performance at Lumier, Maastricht, 2019

The stories that we collected is archived as only sound (not as an visualised, materialised object) 700.73-700.82 - 701.3-702 at Pierre Kemp Lab,
Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht


Ghost culture in East Asia had been deeply related to identity and played a central role in daily life. Especially in Korea and Taiwan, where both countries modernised during the Japanese colonisation before 1945. Beforehand ghosts and spirits were unarchived, only with the Japanese colonisers did the archiving and research of folklore, traditional religions, spiritual culture and ghost stories in Korea and Taiwan become systematised – materialising the Ghosts into photos, books and institutional research. The act of archiving, writing a ghost, was part of a colonial policy to conquer both territories not only physically, but also spiritually. During this act of archiving in colonisation, as part of the modernisation process with it’s institutional power, the diversity of ghost culture as the peculiar collective memory was generalised by the hegemony of civilisation. The unruly Ghost, traditional beliefs, and folk culture have been stigmatised as a pre-modernistic culture, along with so-called non-scientific, anti-modernistic, benighted things. The ghost is spread in spoken language, and has no form. In the process of archiving, the process of writing a ghost, they attain a certain shape.

We are looking at ghosts and spirituality, in terms of a technologies of mediation: ghosts simulate and stimulate other levels of reality, a meta level of society. The ghost marks the limit of a society, and the narrative of the ghost is deeply tied to the each individual community. The ghost is left as a collective memory or inscription of the past. In order to open a possibility of new forms and new interpretations of the ghost as a social mediator or simulator, we want to bring our question to the Maastricht public by screening, discussing and performing the ghost. How then can we use the ghost as social media that is strongly engaged with the local community? Exchanging, materialising, visualising and discussing ghost stories, we want to celebrate the role of the ghost in a range of East Asian cultures. In different contexts, ghost stories can be as widespread as collective memories in community formation. These collective stories you would not usually reveal to the other, will highlight the hidden narratives of another parts of the world and generate shared moments of cooperative imagination.

“Post Ghost Bust’ is an extension of our research publication into a workshop, screening and symposium, about the figure of the ghost in East Asia. It opens our questions, about ghosts and their link to colonial modernity, folk culture, and the collective imagination, to the public.

Text by Aram Lee, published in Charles Nyples Lab, Jan van Eyck, Maastricht, 2019
Tales of the Haunting Victims (Symposium) 

Project initiated by Aram Lee, Chen Jhen, Donghwan Kam
Project supported by Jan van Eyck In-Lab