How to Raise a Ghost

Initiated by Mia van Leeuwen in 2019, How to Raise a Ghost is a multi-pronged project that explores arts-based research as a mode of inquiry into the vast subject of death. The work seeks multi-perspectivism by engaging in death studies research, collaborative artistic practice, contemplative solo-play, creative writing, and death dialogues with artists about their relationship to death. The work is participating in an artistic and cultural movement to explore art-making that is death-facing. This exploration is rooted in the ancient practice of memento mori (remember, you must die) and reconsidered through a contemporary and secular praxis.

The project is haunting many questions: What can the artist contribute to the imagination of death, dying and grief? How do we reconcile with the ineffable? What are we haunted by? What kind of symbolic deaths must we contend with? How do we honour the death of relationships? What does your skeleton look like? How do we pass through the parts of us that need to die – that have already died? What does your funeral look like? What plans do you have for your corpse? How do we create our own death rituals? Where do you perform the After Life? How to raise a ghost?

How to Raise a Ghost is an opus with many moving parts. Shaped like an octopus and draped in a shroud, this tentacular being is death-dancing in spurts of chrysalis and eruption through sporadic solos & collaborations and in deep dive dialogues with artists across North America. These artists include: Nancy Sandercock, Ming Hon, Tanja Woloshen, Natasha Torres-Garner, Karen Asher, Mandy van Leeuwen, Joel Penner & Anna Sigrithur (Biofilm Productions), Kayla Jeanson, Annie Martin, Andrew Stewart, Ekida Laurie, Jorge Sandoval, Julia Wasilewski, Jay Whitehead, Andrew Rabyniuk, Tara Lynn MacDougall, Tyler Muzzin and Heather Ladd.

In 2022-2023, as a (final?) instalment to the How to Raise a Ghost initiative, Mia returns to LIVE performance making with a new work in development entitled giving up the ghost (finally!) Stay tuned for news and updates!