ONTOPO : Memorial Day Weekend, Catskills Zendo


Ontopo brings together artists and creatives in an informal learning environment that is site-specific, multi-disciplinary, and cross-platform.

Ontopo projects are participatory and based in socio-ecological exchange. Participants explore the mechanics and aesthetics of collective performance, with opportunities to workshop new artworks and courses. As an open collective, Ontopo’s form fluctuates in relation to location and participation. The goal is to engender a multi-sensory, multi-disciplinary collective event that merges production with exhibition, work with play, design with art, and performer with audience.

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Ontopo is pleased to present Ontopo Catskill Zendo, SS18 an overnight temple stay with Kathleen Kim, Helga Fassonaki, Jon Santos, Nelleke, AHARAW, Ai Lin, Ben Thorp Brown and Daniel Ryan. The stay, which includes group dinner and breakfast, will take place at Catskill Zendo, a Korean Buddhist Temple in Summitville, NY.

This intentional gathering focuses on the place of the sanctuary, as both a physical/architectural and mental/spiritual phenomenon. We will deconstruct Zendo temple as a structural sanctuary and devise metaphysical sanctuaries through sound, meditation, and vision. In doing so, we consider how modalities of sanctuary affect our well being as embodied and political subjects.

The retreat opens with a group dinner followed by a screening of Ben Thorp Brown’s Gropius Memory Palace and night of performance. The film features guided hypnotherapy by Daniel Ryan, inviting viewers to construct a ‘memory palace’ as they experience Walter Gropius’s iconic Fagus Factory. The film offers an opportunity to soothe anxieties around technology’s effects on the body and workplace, and to consider the relationship between memory and architecture. The screening segues into experimental music performances by Helga Fassonaki, Kathleen Kim, and Ai LIn. The night will conclude with a dance party featuring sets by D.J.s Jon Santos, Nelleke, and AHARAW.

The next morning, we will reconvene through guided meditation with the Zendo monks. Daniel Ryan will lead group hypnotherapy and past life regression. In a panel discussion, Kathleen Kim and Helga Fassonaki will discuss the intersection of creative production and social justice advocacy. Kim, an immigrants’ rights legal scholar and experimental musician/composer, will present on the constitutional foundations of immigration law and the historical link between race and immigration. Fassonaki, a visual and performing artist, will present on her project Khal, which derives from her experience as an American artist in residence of Persian and Azeri decent in Tabriz, Iran, where women are legally restricted from public vocal performance. Following the panel, we will embark on a guided mushroom foraging walk with Alberto H. Arensberg.

Ontop is an ongoing series of performative and participatory projects based on collective creative exchange. With a multi-faceted embrace of visual, culinary, design, sound, architectural, healing and performance arts, Ontopo reimagines the relationship between creating and consuming, author and audience in the age of accelerated production. Ontopo is organized by Jon Santos.