Summer Forum

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Location: Joshua Tree, California

(Past Location: New Harmony, Indiana)

Mission: Summer Forum for Inquiry + Exchange seeks to develop and provide radical spaces in which to facilitate and cultivate contemporary thought. Each adopted residency site acts as the central framework, primary text, and collaborators with specificity that initiate a dialogue. The chosen theme and texts form a commons from which a legible language can arise to contain a diverse and engaged community realizing spontaneous collaborative scholarship and communal creative action. The final actualization is manifested as vague traces left behind (experience, intimacy, physical action, and feeling) and deep roots established (Dilettante, a culminating experimental archive of the theme, the place, and the residency itself).

Cost: $350 // This total includes food, lodging (twin bed in two-person cottages) at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, food, and all programming hosted by Summer Forum for the week. This amount will be due June 1.

Number of Artists: Up to 35 artists at a time

Accommodations: Residents should come to Summer Forum prepared to engage in a week of rigorous discussion. Reading should be completed beforehand as it may be difficult to catch up during the week. Residents will also have the opportunity to share individually, whether it be an extended response to the content, an introduction to their practice, a performance, etc.

A typical day during Summer Forum is structured as such:
Mornings // elective presentations by residents
Afternoons // discussions
Evenings // lectures by invited guests

We will also be conducting field visits throughout the week that will interrupt this schedule.

Note: The average day-time temperature in Joshua Tree in July is 103 degrees but all facilities at the JTRC are equipped with air-conditioning. Please be prepared for both the heat and the A/C.

Joshua Tree, California is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles in the Mohave Desert. It takes its name from the yucca brevifolia plant native to the region, now known more commonly as the Joshua tree since the name was popularized in the early 20th century.

It is home to the Joshua Tree National Park, an area whose history is marked by the early Pleistocene culture at the Pinto Basin; the indigenous Chemehuevi, Serrano, and Cahuilla peoples who are still active in the region; and cattle herding and gold-mining in the 19th and early 20th century. The territory of the park crosses the Mohave, Sonoran, and Colorado deserts and contains a diversity of plant and animal life and geologic formations.

Many have made their way to Joshua Tree to visit or settle permanently. Ufologist George Van Tassel built the wood dome Integratron nearby as an “electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel.” Musician Gram Parsons visited the area regularly and his death and notorious cremation there has brought many seeking to pay homage. Artist Noah Purifoy moved to Joshua Tree in the 1980s and visitors can now view his assemblage sculptures preserved as the Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum. Artist Andrea Zittel lives and makes work in Joshua Tree at her site, A-Z West.

The Joshua Tree Retreat Center was dedicated in 1941 as the Mentalphysics Spiritual Teaching and Retreat Center.  It served as a space for founder Edwin Dingle/Ding Le Mei to teach the practice of mentalphysics, “an experiential method of self-realization that teaches the oneness of life embodied in all substance, energy and thought,” which is still being taught today. Designed in part by Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd Wright, the center was constructed on a hexagonal grid focused around energy vortexes discovered by Dingle. The JTRC regularly hosts yoga and meditation retreats, drum circles, healing workshops, first contact training, and spiritual festivals.

Length of Stay: 1 week in the Summer

Demographic/Medium: The strength of the dialogue lies in the disciplinary diversity of the participants — writers, artists, thinkers, musicians, students, teachers, scientists, consultants, etc. — along with the concerted move away from specialization and instead toward generalized study.

Benefits: Evening events with invited guests in a variety of fields are open to participants and speak to the theme of the session. Dilettante, a print and digital publication, documents participants’ creative responses to both the texts and the week of engagement and also serves as a public forum for interdisciplinary and contemporary thought.

Deadline: April 15

From July 6-13, 2014, thirty-four residents will meet in Joshua Tree, California to discuss and explore the theme “Networks of Belonging: Geographies, Citizenries, and the Masses,” utilizing each other’s areas of interest, a selection of texts and other media, lectures from invited guests, and field visits around Joshua Tree. Residents and others from the Summer Forum network will then continue to explore the theme and place over the course of nine months, which will culminate in the second volume of Dilettante in 2015.

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