The 2017 Art Monastic Laboratory
is a 10-week immersive experience in social sculpture.
This Lab investigates Practice —
meditation, high-level artmaking, and community living.
This summer’s Lab will incubate two artistic endeavors:
Mirror and Bootstraps.
Gerry McCulloch and Betsy McCall are the co-creators of Mirror, an interactive, experimental art piece. Participants are guided to hold eye contact with a stranger for two minutes or more. Betsy intuitively guides them through a series of well-wishes. Meanwhile Gerry is filming them through a contraption that allows us to insert a cinema-quality camera within the axis of the eye contact. So the participants feel like they are simply looking at each other, but one of them is looking directly into the camera. This affords us a unique result: super high-resolution slow-motion footage that could capture the most human of experiences. Between Gerry’s outstanding technical experience (Gerry is Head of Cinematography, Film Editing and Sound Design of the MA in Filmmaking at Goldsmiths, University of London, currently operates Darshana Photo Art, and was previously Director of Untold Productions and film editor at the BBC.
Gerry McCulloch, returning Summer Artmonk, is an award-winning cinematographer, photographer and visual artist with broadcast and exhibition credits in film drama, documentary, television advertising commercials and promotional music videos.
Betsy McCall, Co-Founder and Abbess of the Art Monastery, is pretty much out-of-her-mind excited to be working with the likes of Gerry on their collaboration, Mirror. Betsy gets to really shine and focus on the social sculpture aspect of Mirror: the experience of the participants as they are filmed holding eye contact with strangers.
The working title of the theater piece is “Bootstraps.” As a part of white, American folklore there is this phrase about (and sometimes admiration for) someone who can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and create a better life for themselves.” We will be looking at how this type of cultural mythology perpetuates harmful systems of privilege and capitalism. We will also be asking questions about how values like this can accelerate the fragmentation of our communities. The process will include an examination of how we define “success,” and an exploration into the underbelly of “rugged individualism”–that cultural doctrine of prioritizing personal success above all.
Shawn Shafner is an artist, educator and activist. Creator of The People’s Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org), he has catalyzed conversation about sustainable sanitation from the top of NYC’s largest wastewater treatment plant to the floor of the United Nations. Shawn will be Director of Bootstraps and Assistant Director of Training.