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Spirits in the Material World

Year after year, Hong Kong has been named as the most expensive and unaffordable real estate market for housing in the world. Yet, not for ghosts. The city’s housing stock is infiltrated by unwanted spectral residents. While spirits are woven into the fabric of daily life and considered equal and rightful inhabitants of interior and exterior spaces in many Asian countries, the ghost of someone who died a violent death continues to inhabit the house that she or he occupied in life, causing misfortune for the new occupants. A ‘haunted’ apartment could bring down the price of all the flats on the same floor, of apartments above and below it, and even of the entire block. The presence of ghosts not only leaves apartments vacant but also affects the value of the property. Banks often even refuse to give loans and mortgages for ‘haunted’ properties. Ghosts are, therefore, an active agent for the regulation of the housing market by providing homes at a cost between 20% and 30% below average.

Otero's presentation navigates across a variety of agents and presences in Hong Kong, Amsterdam and beyond, reflecting on how they converge to shape the spatial articulations, imaginaries and markets for contemporary housing. Through the lenses of ghosts, as well as financial devices, viruses, artificial intelligences and even squatters, it might be possible to reformulate questions of privacy, domesticity, property and belonging in relation to the notions of the home and the homeland.

The lecture borrows the title from a song by The Police, and the upcoming exhibition by artist Herman Chong at Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Register for the lecture here.

Marina Otero Verzier

Marina Otero Verzier is director of research at Het Nieuwe Instituut and a member of the Artistic Team for Manifesta 13. Recently, she curated the exhibition Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective by Jonas Staal (2018), and co-curated I See That I See What You Don’t See at La Triennale Di Milano (2019). Previously, Otero was the curator of Work, Body, Leisure, the Dutch Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, and co-curator of the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale. She edited books such as Architecture of Appropriation (2019), Work, Body, Leisure (2018) and After Belonging (2016), and currently teaches at RCA in London.

Marina Otero Verzier
Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Katia Truijen, Marten Kuijpers, Anastasia Kubrak
Alex Walker