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This project was successfully funded on April 24, 2014.

Summer Forum is an experiment in discourse and human connection.

Joshua Tree, CA Art
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About this project

Summer Forum 2014

Taking place in a different location every two years, Summer Forum for Inquiry + Exchange sets out to develop and provide radical spaces in which to facilitate and cultivate contemporary thought. 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." Invited guests who will speak to the theme from their unique perspective include novelist Gina Apostol, design theorist Benjamin Bratton, philosopher Lisa Guenther, and professor of architecture Felicity Scott. 

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.

Our successful Kickstarter campaign from 2012 will give you a sense of our first session in New Harmony, Indiana. 

Joshua Tree

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 have 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, where we will be hosting Summer Forum, 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. 

Our Invited Guests

Gina Apostol is a novelist who lives in New York City, western Massachusetts, and Manila. Her third novel, Gun Dealer's Daughter (W.W. Norton), was awarded the 2013 PEN Open Book Award. Her first two novels, Bibliolepsy (University of the Philippines Press) and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata (Anvil Publishing), each won the Philippine National Book Award for Fiction (1997 and 2010). A collection of stories, Cunanan’s Wake and Other Stories, was runner up for the Prairie Schooner Fiction Prize in 2006. Her stories have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, among other journals, and in the anthologies Charlie Chan is Dead, Volume 2 (Penguin); The Thirdest World (Factory School); Flippin’: Filipino Writers on America (Asian American Writers Workshop); Juncture: 25 Excellent Stories and 12 Very Good Drawings (Soft Skull Press); Babaylan: Filipina and Filipina American Fiction (Aunt Lute Press), and Balikbayan: Contemporanei storie filipini (Ossigene).

Benjamin H. Bratton is a theorist whose work spans Philosophy, Art and Design. He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. Starting in Summer 2014, he is also Professor at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His research is situated at the intersections of contemporary social and political theory, computational media & infrastructure, architectural & urban design problems, and the politics of synthetic ecologies and biologies. Current work focuses on the political geography of cloud computing, highly granular universal addressing systems, and alternate models of ecological governance. His next book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, is forthcoming. Most recent selected lectures online include "We Need to Talk About TED" at TEDx San Diego; "On the Nomos of the Cloud" at Berlage Institute, NL and MOCA, Los Angeles; "Accidental Geopolitics" at The Guardian Summit; and "Ambivalence and/or Utopia" at University of Michigan and UC Irvine. Bratton is a frequent advisor and consultant to public and private organizations. In a previous life, he was the Director of the Advanced Strategies Group at Yahoo!

Lisa Guenther is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and the author of Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives (Minnesota University Press), a phenomenological critique of solitary confinement, drawing on the work of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, as well as legal and historical documents in the history of the US penitentiary system, and supermax prisons. She is also the author of The Gift of the Other: Levinas and the Politics of Reproduction (SUNY Press), which brings together a philosophical analysis of time, embodiment, and ethical responsibility with a feminist critique of the way women’s reproductive capacity has been theorized and represented in Western culture. Guenther has been interviewed for The Philosopher's Zone on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), CBC Ideas Radio Documentary on Solitary Confinement, and The Believer. She facilitates a weekly discussion group at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tennessee.

Felicity D. Scott is Associate Professor of Architecture and founding director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning. Her research focuses on articulating genealogies of political and theoretical engagement with questions of technological transformation within modern and contemporary architecture, as well as within the discourses and institutions that have shaped and defined the discipline. In addition to publishing numerous articles in journals, magazines, and edited anthologies, her book, Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism, was published by MIT Press in 2007, and Living Archive 7: Ant Farm, appeared on ACTAR Editorial in 2008. She is currently working on a book entitled “Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counter-Insurgency, 1966-1979” to be published by Zone Books. Felicity is also a founding co-editor of Grey Room, a quarterly journal of architecture, art, media, and politics published quarterly by MIT Press since Fall 2000.

Reading List

A sampling of this summer’s reading list includes excerpts from: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism; Gina Apostol, Gun Dealer's Daughter; Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future; Lowell John Bean and Katherine S. Saubel, Temalpakh: Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants; Lauren Berlant, The Queen of America Goes to Washington City; Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions; Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou, Dispossession: The Performative in the Political; Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee; Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self; Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life; Edie Fake, Gaylord Phoenix; Harun Farocki, Images of the World and the Inscription of War; Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977—1978; Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California; Elizabeth Grosz, Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space; Lisa Guenther, Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives; Patricio Guzman, Nostalgia for the Light; Donna Haraway, When Species Meet; Derek Jarman, Blue; KHOLE, Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom; Bruno Latour, "The Whole is Always Smaller Than Its Parts: A Digital Test of Gabriel Tarde’s Monads;" Olia Lialina, "Still There;" Clarice Lispecter, The Passion According to G.H.; Carla Lonzi, "Let's Spit On Hegel;" Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living; Shaka McGlotten, Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality; Metahaven, Uncorporate Identity; China Mieville, The City & The City; Jennifer Moon, This Is Where I Learned of Love: CDCR 8/18/08 - 5/19/09; Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox; Aiwah Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty; Mary Patten, Revolution as an Eternal Dream: The Exemplary Failure of the Madame Binh Graphics Collective; Lane Relyea, Your Everyday Art World; Doug Saunders, Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World; Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby; US Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test"; Rebecca Walker, Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness.

Visit our website for the complete list.

Apply

If you are interested in applying to Summer Forum, applications are available between now and April 25. Feel free to email us at info@summerforum.org for more information.

What your donation will help cover

We are trying to raise $10,000 through this Kickstarter campaign, as part of a larger fundraising initiative to raise $23,000. The $10,000 we're trying to raise here will help cover:

  •  Programming featuring invited guests, including transportation, room and board, and a modest honorarium for the presenters
  • Facility rentals at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center where we will eat, sleep, discuss, and hang out
  • Heavily subsidizing the cost for each resident to make this type of endeavor as accessible as possible. (Residents will pay the low cost of $350 for room and board and all programming for the week, in addition to their own travel expenses.)
  • Feeding 40-45 people for the week. 

Thank you for your support!

summerforum.org

Risks and challenges

Because this is our second Kickstarter campaign, we feel comfortable with our promise to fulfill all of our rewards. While we don't anticipate any overwhelming obstacles, we will be in contact with you as soon as anything comes up. Thanks for your support!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    14 backers

    Donate $10 and receive a personal thank you by email and we'll include your name on our donors list on our website and in the Summer Forum publication, Dilettante.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    27 backers

    Donate $30 and receive a set of Joshua Tree-inspired playing cards designed by Summer Forum 2014 design collaborator Ria Roberts.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    48 backers

    Donate $50 and receive a limited edition tote bag and a copy of the upcoming Summer Forum print publication, Dilettante, Volume II: Joshua Tree, plus everything above.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    6 backers

    Donate $75 and receive Dilettante, Volume I: New Harmony (2013), plus everything above.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    9 backers

    Donate $100 and we will give you a quarter page of promotional space in the second volume of Dilettante, plus everything above.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    4 backers Limited (8 left of 12)

    Donate $150 and receive one of six limited edition artworks inspired by books on the Summer Forum reading list, created by artists Arend DeGruyter-Helfer, Karolina Gnatowski, Sam Lipp & Luis Miguel Bendana, Rachel Niffenegger, Aay Preston-Myint, or Chris Roeleveld - plus everything above.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $300 or more

    3 backers

    Donate $300 and we will give you a half page of promotional space in the second volume of Dilettante, plus everything at the $100 reward level.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer Limited (5 left of 6)

    Donate $500 and receive a small, signed print by artist Chris Johanson plus everything at the $100 reward level.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $700 or more

    0 backers

    Donate $700 and you will be invited to a donor dinner in Chicago, New York, or LA hosted by select Summer Forum board members and current and/or past residents, plus at the $100 reward level.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers

    Donate $1000 and we'll name you on all official programming as the sponsor of one of the lectures or discussion sessions of your choice in Joshua Tree, plus everything at the $100 reward level.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)