holy ghosts is a (web)site-specific and mainly text-based project, in which I will create a narrative and performative map of my current place of residence - Jerusalem. Throughout the month I will work with paid ghostwriters from all over the globe and all kinds of genres, to reserach hyperreal narratives in the age of the Internet as well as the availability and uniqueness of experiences in a globalized world.
To see how the imagined will collide with local reality, I will serve as their messenger and mark the spots of their/my traces on the map, their words accompanied or opposed by my visual reaction and input. In the end, multiple layers of my-selves will have been spread all over the city and create their own pattern and chain of events.*
ghost#1: marymkiesel, Bangladesh
travel agency logo
ghost#4: Saidabdullah642, UK
ghost#2: aidan_defrese, USA
ghost#5: athiraz, Malaysia
ghost#3: Falapasta, Italy
immersive travel writing
ghost#6: Taeciann, USA
Haiku in English and Japanese
+++NOTES+++RESEARCH BACKGROUND+++DOCUMENTATION+++READING LISTS+++LINKS LINKS LINKS+++NOTES+++RESEARCH BACKGROUND+++
Digital Essay by JR Carpenter
"My early adoption of the internet as a medium was due in part to my attraction to the web as an inbetween space wherein the dialectics of desire and loss, image and text, map and trace, place and space could finally co-exist. Thus far I've used the term 'map' loosely. All maps are born of specific times and places, of systems of thought and of measurement, of policies of trade and of governance."
Made a new friend today after visiting Hebron Khan Hostel IRL. Tutu from Harab Faj Cafe (which is located directly in front of the hostel) said a thing or two about his city, one of which I will share here:
"When you talk about Jerusalem, it's always STORIES, STORIES, STORIES.
You can never stop."
+++SOMETHING TO WATCH++
The Simpsons episode "The Greates Story Ever D'ohed" (S21 E16), where they go to the Holy City, which in light of this research seemed amazingly connected and offers a lot of fun ideas about tourists' images of places/places' images of tourists. Made a little GIF from that, full episode can be found somewhere in cyberspace, I'm sure.
+++SOMETHING ELSE TO WATCH+++
An interesting phenoma that emerged in the last years, especially among youtube and instagram influencers, is the so-called "fake trips"/"lying challenges". They pretend to be traveling to a place abroad and "document" the entire journeys on their channels - including stories, pictures and videos taken on airports and sights, as well as marking the locations, of course.
I watched this really, really in the beginning of this research, even before the actual residency started. While it's not exactly big news that, when it comes to the web, you can basically be whatever and wherever you want - but especially under the lense of tourism and hyperreality I still felt like it's worth sharing this, as some kind of fringe part of the subject.
But see for yourself in this example:
missions sent out to all the ghosts
Taking a moment to reflect on what it means to do a project/research like this, on the (hyper)realities of tourism and travel writing create, in times like these.
When borders are more present than ever, cities stay empty, private and public futures are uncertain and the realities we thought to live in are mercilessly crumbling down. It does feel like a quite nostalgic act, catching the leftovers of what once has been a lot of people's daily bread and life, archives of places' potentials and flaws - and not sure if that might be a good thing or actually just a one way street.
What is nostalgia anyway if not as well an attempt of enforcing yet another layer of hyperreality on top of what we call "real"?
As Baudrillard puts it: a strategy of the real.
"When the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning." (as fully quoted below)
At last, a quote about Jerusalem:
"But in Jerusalem all historic times are out of time, or they are contemporary, or there is only one ultimate time in which God sends His Son to the Passion and exposes prophets to constant trials. (...) The holiest shrines of three religions are clustered round each other within a circle one mile in diameter, as if God could not find another place on earth but the Old City in Jerusalem. It is only due to the successive profanations and consecrations of the same places that archeologists can with such certainty establish the topography of events two thousand years ago. The holy places in Jerusalem are built of the same bright stone. If Jerusalem is a particular place of Divine mediation, it is only the stones that are its witness. (...) In Jerusalem, over the biblical Hill of Evil Counsel the light at sunset is red, the rays are split and centre, like a halo, round an unseen head."
From: Jan Kott, The Eating of the Gods (Introduction), 1987
A last note on the project and things
I was not sure if to write a summary note today - anyway, I don't think that I am ready to make a "bottom line" statement about this yet but I do want to take a few moments here to think about what happened during this time with the project.
To be entirely honest, shortly before this residency started up until a few days into June, I was really struggling with doing this project. With everything that was going on, specifically in that week, it felt quite meaning- and pointless and hard to get a grasp on things while trying to stay in touch with the day-by-day events happening everywhere. About to give up on it, I had this lucky moment of enlightment when I came across the concept of Hyperreality and Baudrillards writing. It might sound cheesy but suddenly everything came together. I realized that all the pieces were there already, they were connected and, yes, they were very much relevant. It made sense to read those texts now, to go to those places now, to do this work in Jerusalem. So I used this time to puzzle them together as well as I could. Less orientied towards producing a concrete output but more focused on researching and finding a way to share the resources I found.
holy ghosts (as for now) did not turn out what I imagined it to be in the beginning of the year. Sure, tourists and their way of performing places are still the main element things circled around - but what happened is that the current events left an imprint on every thought, word, image and sound that I had, created or came across in this time. It was a way to micro-archive these very exceptional times, full of uncertainty and anger but also of hope and clarity of thoughts, realizing things that were blurred before. To make a work about tourism and tourist narratives means inevitably to make a work about 20/21st century capitalism and its narratives. Trying to deconstruct "travelers' realities" means you have to start deconstructing the system's realities - and oh, the gates that this opens up. I am not done with this, of course. But I surely did take a lot from going through this month and doing the work I did, and I really hope that maybe you did or will do, too.
Below you find the full reading lists of texts and books I always got back to during this project.
Simulacra and Simulation, 1983
--> and many, many other books and texts that he wrote. This is the one I used to get into the concept of Hyperreality.
--> this was published in the 80ies but written much earlier and contains some really early thoughts on "Psychogeography"
Empire of Signs, 1983
--> the link will lead you to a pdf-file containing the entire book. I really, really highly recommend investing in the book, which anyway shouldn't be too expensive, because it is so beautyful and somehow makes more sense in printed form (to me at least)
Jorge Louis Borges:
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson):
The Hunting of the Snark, 1847
--> look up "The Bellman's Map", I quoted it as well in the Horror-Map-Making-GIF
Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, 1889
--> also quoted in that GIF, seems like Carrol was busy as well with the impossibility of creating an accurate map of "real" places
--> published on the Bureau of Public Secrets, which is a great platform offering copyright-free, entire texts of Debord and others in a huge variety of translations
Travels in Hyperreality, 1986
--> another case of "better buy the book" - but it certainly is worth checking this file just for having a first glance inside Eco's world of Hyperreality
Patrick Holland, Graham Huggan (Edit.):
Tourists with Typewriters - Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing, 2000
The Tourist Gaze (2nd Edit), 2002
--> certainly a classic in the field of "tourist science", he was the first one to write about the "Tourist Gaze" and developped his theory further in many, many editions of this book. Quoted by literally everyone writing about this subject.
Graham M.S. Dann (Edit.):
The Tourist as a Metaphor of the Social World, 2002
Metin Kozak, Nazmi Kozak (Edit.):
Tourism Behavior - An Experiential Practice, 2018
--> the authors come from the tourism industry itself, it still is quite interesting though to get an insight on the act of "performing cultural tourism" etc.
Henrik Linden, Sara Linden (Edit.):
Fans and Fan Cultures - Tourism, Consumerism and Social Media, 2017
--> not only very fun to read, also one of the most contemporary texts I could find on the subject and opening perspectives not only on tourism but fan and pop cultures etc as well
I love IBIZA: Music, Place and Belonging
(in: Mark Duffett: Popular Music Fandom: Identities, Roles and Practices, 2014)
--> DYING to read the full essay, as it was quoted a lot by Linden&Linden (see above) and sounds so, so smart and very accessible
Hyperreality and Global Culture, 1998
Antje Cordes (GER) is an interdisciplinary artist, performance director, and dramaturg, currently based in Jerusalem.