Ghostly Geographies: Cobwebbing

Fake cobwebs are a common decorative feature found in houses around Halloween, along with pumpkins, both fake and real, skeletons, severed limbs and ghostly entities.  The cobwebs caught my attention as they are the most mundane of these items, by far.  It is rather ironic that real cobwebs, signs of dirt and uncleanliness, are swept away from suburban homes, while their fake counterparts are strewn with gusto as signs of abandonment, hauntedness and general scariness.


On reflection, it is interesting that the cobweb has become this symbol. It indicates a space that has been abandoned by humans, presumably for some ghastly or unspoken-of reason, but is occupied by supernatural beings or forces. In passing by or, more viscerally, passing through the cobweb we are entering the realm of the haunted, the ghostly, the spectral. In pop-culture, the heroes (or victims) venture into some form of edge or other place – the abandoned house, old mine, closed down hospital  - and soon enough someone encounters a cobweb, after which all manner of unusual things unfold. The cobweb then is a barrier, it is a manifestation of a threshold which must literally be breached, with accompanying consequences for those who dare to enter those dark territories.

The suburban fake cobwebs try to capture a sense of this. For those getting into the spirit of things, especially children, the cobwebs can convey a sense of these ghostly themes; and for those who only seen the shallowness and commercialism, perhaps you might consider visiting that abandoned house, old mine or closed down hospital instead…

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