Paranormal research office cracks open Adelaide’s ghost tales

By Melissa Keogh

Take a wander along Pirie Street in Adelaide’s CBD and you might come across an ouija board, two pairs of Ghostbusters-style overalls and a slight air of eeriness.

But it’s all in the name of research … and art.

A paranormal research office has been installed next to the Adelaide City Council and it’s inviting people to share their spooky stories.

The concept is both a participatory art project – made humorous by the spooky props – and a genuine paranormal research office offering consultation on hauntings and unexplained happenings.

The Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs forms part of the 2017 SA Living Artists (SALA) Festival and is hosted in the Art Pod, an arts engagement initiative of the Adelaide City Council.

The pair behind the ghostly project is the council’s emerging curator Andrew Purvis and artist Sasha Grbich.

Image courtesy of Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs.

Sasha Grbich and Andrew Purvis are researching paranormal activities in Adelaide. Image courtesy of Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs.

Andrew says more than 50 people have dropped by the office since it opened in August.

However, the team is so far only researching one ghostly case, involving a candle that lights by itself in a house in Dulwich.

On a desk at The Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs is the culprit candle, along with a photo of the candle mysteriously burning in the house.

With access to the council’s archive department, including land titles, the research office will try to uncover the history of the building and its past occupants.

The mysterious candle is on display in the art pod.

The mysterious candle is on display at the art pod.

“The idea was that ghosts and the supernatural connect us with history,” Andrew says.

“We aren’t interested in doing this to scare people, we want to know what ghosts and lingering spirits say about the state and our history.”

Andrew says society is suffering from a case of “cultural amnesia”.

“We have access to history and there are archives available but to what extent do we engage with that in our day-to-day living?” he says.

While the department is only so far investigating one case, it has engaged in at least six interviews with people wanting to share their spooky stories.

“We have had people come in and just want to share their stories with us,” Andrew says.

“People want to talk about it, but they feel others will judge them.”

The Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs will exist at 25 Pirie Street until October 6.

The Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs can be found at 25 Pirie Street until October 6.

Andrew says professional ghostbusters should be contacted to deal with “aggressive or hostile” ghost experiences.

“We’re not big on ghost busting or driving out spirits, we are interested in the idea of co-habitation with ghosts and living alongside history,” he says.

Aside from the dormant ouija board and the overalls, other slivers of humour have also made their way into the concept.

The department’s website features a ghost registry, where both the living and the dead can record their details.

“If you are a ghost we want to know where you are lingering, why you are here and your preferred form of communication,” it reads.

The Department of Non-Corporeal Affairs is on until October 6, however, its presence will linger on through the website.

Visit the Art Pod at 25 Pirie Street Adelaide on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday, 9am – 5pm.