Ghost stories

Otherworldly art installation Tracing Night takes audiences on an eerie journey.
Visual artist Ed Pien is scared of ghosts. “But I don’t think they exist,” he says. “If I was left alone in the darkness, I’d be scared — not of wild animals, but of the ‘other’.” Growing up in a household where supernatural spectres were used to frighten and set boundaries, the Taiwan-born, Toronto-based artist developed a fascination with creatures from other worlds. “Even if ghosts aren’t real, they’re still here. We talk about them, we use them in stories to scare kids and I think there’s a need for us to have this sense of other.” Pien says he is particularly interested in finding out why human beings have a need, and an inclination, to be afraid of these unknown otherworldly apparitions. “I haven’t found that out yet,” he says, taking a break from installing a different piece in Saskatoon. “I’m interested in the idea of ghosts, not in the sense that they frighten us and are mysterious, or that you get a cheap thrill from them.” Pien has been exhibiting throughout Canada and internationally for 20 years and has held numerous teaching positions at art schools across the country. Currently, he teaches at the University of Toronto and simultaneously shows his work across North America and Europe. When he’s not installing his complex pieces in galleries, he also spends time running workshops. Most recently, Pien ran a drawing workshop for refugees in London, England. Pien’s larger-than-life maze Tracing Night will be on display at the Museum of Vancouver from February 4 to April 11. Viewers can walk through the installation of giant, winding translucent panels etched with eerie drawings, while video and sounds suggest the presence of strange nighttime creatures. The panels’ bluish-grey and pinky-orange colours are reminiscent of an ominous dusk. “At dusk, your imagination is about to run more freely because there is no clarity. It’s a combination of the visible and invisible; at any minute something that has a form may disappear or a new form may appear,” he says. “Tracing Night has a sense of danger.” “Ed Pien: Tracing Night” runs February 4 to April 11 at the Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver; (604) 736-4431; tickets from $7 -$11. More information about Ed Pien: Tracing Night

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