Wanderer's Milk Can, Incense, and Chrysanthemum

Vy-Thúy Đặng

Keywords: Myth, Post-colonialism, Memory

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kiniko2697@gmail.com, vydang.hotglue.me, instagram.com/dangnotdang

Our work is all about ghosts/spirits. They situate between nooks and cracks of the unevenly growing cities in our third-world country, which are experiencing modernity(s) in complex ways.

We yearn for documenting the fragmentary spooky and magical moments that partially enchanted our childhood. Perhaps we are missing so dearly the uncanny feeling towards the unknown and mysterious in the half-constructed cities that still bare the vestige of colonialism, of violence against our people and nature—the enchantment of the urban space that we did not experience in the cities of the Netherlands.

“Ghosts do not exist in the Netherlands!?” we exclaimed.

“Maybe there are, but they are not scary,” someone speculated

“Maybe the scary ones all stayed back in the colonies,” another one jokingly chimed in.

But maybe because we are strangers. Yet, I was convinced that we miss glimpses of these phantoms partly because of the purported “disenchantment”, a characteristic of modernity and its metropolis. In these modernized metropolises, ghosts, spirits, and the magical alike are stifled and pushed to the realm of childishness, superstition, or the primitive.

Thus, we revisit the many stories about ghosts/spirits, and treat them as affectants and informants. They (dis)enchant. They are signs of scathing violence - war, environmental destruction, or overlooked sufferings - poverty, exploitation. They are simultaneously sources of wonder that entice awe, curiosity, openness to the unknown, and prompts for ethical entanglements.