Beware! The library is filled with GH( )STS!

Brooklyn based interdisciplinary artist Eva von Schweinitz works in theater, film, and interactive media. She is bringing GH(  )STS to the Graduate Center Library as part of this year’s PRELUDE Festival, presented by the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.

Von Schweinitz describes GH(  )STS as “an audio walk in a library, guided by the ghost of a fictional character who was abandoned by her author. Visitors embark on a journey into the messy act of imagination and the haunted world of writing. Slowly, they are drawn into a spiraling tale about phantasms, fantasies, apparitions, and delusions. Will they be able to help release the ghost?”

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Von Schweinitz’ depiction is accurate, but at first I still didn’t know what to expect. I worked with Eva for weeks on possible locations for the walk, such as the Dissertation Reading Room, and I showed her highlights of the collection, such as the Buttinger book collection on Utopias, and I introduced unique artifacts to her, such as the self-portraits of Mina Rees in the main entrance of the library. Ultimately, we found many possibilities for where this audio walk could lead, for where this GH(  )ST could lead the listener. I left it to Eva then, to find the path for which the female-voiced GH(  )ST would travel in and out of the stacks, requiring the help of the listener-as-author to complete her story to release her from the cave of her own voice.

Ultimately, Eva chose a study nook in the Madison Avenue corner of the library to act as a writer’s desk, and she chose a cushioned sofa near a window to contemplate Didion’s After Henry, noting passages about death, funerals, and the desire to communicate with those who have passed. Counting the walk up and down the grand library staircase, and the elevator ride (pending its operation, knock on wood), there are over ten stations for the listener-as-author to commune with the von Schweinitz’ GH(  )ST.

Participants will name the GH(  )ST, will see peripheral segments of the GH(  )STs shadow on digital screens, and will ultimately try to set the GH(  )ST free by completing her story with words from stored memories.

During my tour, my GH(  )ST was named Anna. What will be yours?

The library thanks the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center for including us in their eleventh annual PRELUDE Festival. We thank Eva for being gracious and for bringing life to the library with the presence of a GH(  )ST.

The audio walks for GH(  )STS must be registered for in advance. Sign up in person at the PRELUDE 2014 info desk, located outside the Segal Theatre, 4pm – 7:30pm Wednesday and Thursday, Oct 8-9th, 2014.

Also… on Friday, October 10th, there will be Ghost Stories in the Durst Room, by Tiny Little Band.

About the Author

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz is an Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library.