A Spectre Haunts

The artworks in this exhibition are haunted. Through the history of their materials, form, or content, they conjure spirits from the past to address our current moment.

Exhibitions a spectre haunts banner

The source of this haunting is uncertain and even fleeting. Like a ghost, the histories and memories that these works invoke are both present and absent to us—they exist for us today, but only through a dim past to which we can no longer return. It’s our hope that you’ll make friends with these ghosts and perhaps linger to think about the role of history and memory in your daily life.

In “Spectres of Marx,” Jacques Derrida coined the word “hauntology” to attempt to capture how the past (even the past we thought we put behind us) has a way of returning. However, he explains, this return of the past is peculiar. It can feel clear and present, but it is always not completely with us. Because it is history, it is something that we forever cannot clearly see or feel, regardless of how confident we are about our memory. Further, because the present always has a touch of the past about it (especially the past we work to suppress), our current moment is always a little haunted.

It’s in this apparitional way that history and memory function in these artworks. Clive Murphy and Samantha Fields conjure memory from something as simple as a cardboard box or afghan blanket, bringing present our ancient needs for survival and community. The spectral landscapes of Owen Rundquist, Barry Underwood, Natalie Rae Good, and Mike Schreiber explore how environments can be both recorders and obscurers of our time here. Meanwhile, Fabian Knecht does his own haunting of Marcel Duchamp’s childhood home, perhaps revenge for how his work is spooked by the influence of the artist.

As viewers, we are mediums, drawing out substance from artworks by bringing our own spirit to them. These artworks ask you to bring ghosts from the people and places you thought you may have lost. They also ask you to think about the people and places of others—those that have histories that you don’t share. As if a map of hitherto unexplored territory, “A Spectre Haunts” plots the strangeness of memory—that phenomenal presence in our heads, changing with each incantation.

Selections from “A Spectre Haunts”