The following are descriptions of a few workshops offered during the 2018 retreat.  You can refer to it to gain a basic idea of some directions we’ve moved in before.

Spectacle and Silence: De/Constructing Artifice with Ariel:

Using Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality as impetus, build and destroy a miniature mock village while contemplating the two faces of the desert. Search for relics of the real in the hyperreal by building a paintbrush with natural materials.

Engaging Community as Creative Social Praxis with Sean

To know an environment intimately it can be argued that it is necessary to engage communities and people who define that place. This workshop will introduce methods for engaging with the Joshua Tree community for understanding and connecting with place in deep and more meaningful ways to inform the creative process.

The Desert Gothic with Sean

Aesthetic lineages of the gothic were introduced through Romanticism and have since accreted meanings that offer an adaptable framework for artists and writers. This workshop will introduce ways to identify, adapt and integrate gothic aesthetics for a desert locality.

Silence and Psychogeography with Matthew

Begin by cultivating silence, becoming receptive to the environment, and unhinging from ordinary mental filters. Following this meditation, take what the French Situationists called a “derive,” moving through the desert landscape in a strategic or spontaneous way to experience it as brand new.

Creative Practice in the Anthropocene & Exploring Dystopia with Sean
This workshop will outline methods for engaging in creative practice by examining and adapting constructs of the “anthropocene,” climate change and dystopia.

Japanese Zen Aesthetics in the Desert with Sean

Making use of Japanese Zen aesthetic concepts including wabi sabi and shibui, this workshop will seek to identify these occurrences in the desert terrain and integrate them into a written or visual arts practice.

Animating the Desert: Poets Theater with Ariel

Compose a short poetry play using characters from the desert itself and True West by Sam Shepard as source material. Work through definitions of poets theater while reading works by Diane di Prima and others. Explore themes of environmentalism and anti-establishmentism

2017 Workshops:

Last year’s workshops included Eco-Consciousness and Creative Praxis: Engaging the Web; Desert Initiation Workshop; Transhistorical and Cultural Geographies as Source; Desert Alchemy and Wabi-Sabi at 49 Palms Oasis; Vertical Integration: Geologic Forms as Muse; Commun(e)ication: Ontopoetics and Dialoguing with Place; Eco-Consciousness and Creative Praxis: Engaging the Web; High Noon Ceremony; and Transhistorical and Cultural Geographies as Source.

Here are some images from 2017’s workshop series: