DAFNA MAIMON / ETHAN HAYES-CHUTE
“Camp Solong” is a participatory, immersive performance in the form of an absurd yet heartfelt mini-institution. Manifesting as a three-day summer camp for adults, the camp provides a program focusing on the inevitable, impending task of “saying goodbye” that awaits not just at the end of the camp, but also at the end of all relations, and life itself. As such, “Camp Solong” is concerned with emotional labor and the providing of space for closure, as well as internal processing in contemporary life.
The camp takes place in an open-air, one-wall cabin structure that we built, hosting a group of six campers chosen via open call. The camp, built from locally repurposed materials and situated in the middle of rural Maine, is openly viewable to the public throughout its duration, articulating it as both a form of “living land art” and a public social sculpture.
Within “Camp Solong” we engage in an elaborate form of role-playing where we embody two fictional alter ego characters, “Fluffy” and “Baloo,” respectively, who are also the camp’s founders and counselors, running (and participating in) the entire show.
As the camp counselors, we stage and live through a cycle of performative rituals, in large and small scale; the camp event can be seen as one overall performance, but also each day of the camp includes a series of smaller participatory performances. Play and humor are central parts of the “Camp Solong” universe, as our activities are formulated through a series of fictionalized workshops, like “Emotional Trashbinning,” “Solo Time-Traveling,” and “Self-Conscious-Napping,” all aiming to induce empathetic states of self-maximalization that ultimately allow for catharsis and a deep sense of belonging.
“Camp Solong” is a factory for self-care tools, a heterotopia calling for alternative ways of living, where a conglomeration of self-sufficiency and connection to self, nature, and others is presented as a viable option for creating meaningful living.