Dafna Maimon & Ethan Hayes-Chute - Camp Solong: Almost Season
Camp Solong is a psychic reconfiguration of the American summer camp, a stable of childhood and adolescence, and often rites of passage. Rather than traditional outdoor pursuits though, this camp’s activities, which include Emotional Trashbinning and Solo Time-Travelling, are more interior in nature. Dafna Maimon & Ethan Hayes-Chute, who co-created the retreat and perform the dual roles of camp counselors, return to the transitory coming-of-age story symbolized by the summer camp - a period in and of itself formative. Yet if 'laser-sharp microscopic introspection' is – as its literature describes it – Camp Solong’s specialism, then might Fluffy and Baloo, the artist’s alter-egos, also be reconciling their own hangups with the outside world?
If so, they momentarily relive an unadulterated point in time in order to release the build-up of emotional labor that is later accrued in the everyday. By prolonging the act of 'goodbye', the camp’s pervading theme, their characters re-stage it as catharsis for the camp participants. This is to say: as a fictional art project, Camp Solong absorbs the artist’s own regression from adult life into its aesthetic projection as their characters Fluffy and Baloo in and outside of the camp’s fugitivity.
Repetition, in this respect, is also enacted through semi-improvised performance outside of the camp’s duration. In the photo series Fluffy and Baloo Looking for Campers (2018), Maimon and Hayes-Chute appear within different European locations, such as Madrid, Reykjavik, and Lisbon. Outfitted in their camp uniforms, a retro-palette of peach and pinks, they can be seen pamphleting by the side of a road in a snow-covered landscape or front of the derelict modernism of a Latvian housing estate. These photographs are in fact a staged live act in which the artists again embody the roles of Fluffy and Baloo; repeating phrases, and, often comically, constructing new lines of dialogue by riffing off one another whilst being recorded. The longer they take to capture, the more absurd their characterizations become. However, it is the apparent remoteness in each of these images that reinforces their character’s desperation more than a simple contrast of photographic subject matter. They are looking for recruits in the most unlikely of places, seemingly out of step in time and at odds with surroundings devoid of other people.
If ‘Camp Solong: Almost Season’, as a static exhibition, is a further extension of the characterization developed through the camp itself, then the counselor’s Bunk-Bureau (2018) offers a tangible glimpse into their fictionalization through makeshift installation. This piece – a bunk-bed-and-desk hybrid sculpture that Maimon and Hayes-Chute will use, in character, during the show – is dressed with details attributed to the counselor’s personas; amongst props and paraphernalia such as printed manifestos, brochures, and campaigning ephemera. During gallery hours, the counselors will be sat at their respective bunk-bureaus, filing, researching, crafting, emotionally processing, and writing their goodbye journals. One can sense that Fluffy and Baloo are perhaps astray in the wilderness of reality and bureaucracy commonplace outside of the sanctuary of Camp Solong. In this respect, the works in the exhibition are proxies for an embodied ideal that fulfills its true potential in the camp itself. At least in this environment, where they able to fully exist, they find their catharsis in a series of neverending goodbyes.
Text by Saim Demircan, Curator and writer based in New York City
Finnish/Israeli Artist, Dafna Maimon (b.1982) works in video, performance and 'immersive performance-installations'. Interested in directing an experience in a collective workshop-type of way, Maimon’s practice tests the limits of stereotypes while facilitating creative therapeutic techniques. Popular tongue and cheek definitions of identity and the body manifest themselves in her 'amateur performance ensembles'. Boundaries of the contemporary self are probed to allow for new ways of being. Dafna Maimon was born in Porvoo, Finland. She has a bachelor’s degree from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and a master’s degree from the Sandberg Institute. She has had residencies at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Iaspis, Stockholm; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York; and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, USA. Maimon has exhibited at venues including Gallery Wedding, Berlin, Lilith Performance Studio, Malmö, Kunst-Werke, Berlin; Sinne Gallery and SIC Space, Helsinki; PS1 Moma, New York; Center for Contemporary Arts Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; NRW Forum, Düsseldorf, Moscow Museum of Modern Art; 1646, Den Haag; W139, Amsterdam; Annie Wharton Gallery, Los Angeles; and Project Native Informant, London.
Follow Dafna on Instagram: @dafnamaimon
Ethan Hayes-Chute (b. 1982) explores vernacular approaches to everyday life, especially in the domestic realm. This includes, but is not limited to, architecture, design, technology, and language. His research into such vernaculars expresses a fascination and admiration for self-sufficiency, do-it-yourself sensibilities, and human problem-solving capacities. In his sculptural and installation works, he intertwines and stitches these themes together across scales, mediums, materials, and methods. He also hosts an online do-it-yourself TV show called The New Domestic Woodshop, in which he brings domestic fantasies to life. Ethan Hayes-Chute was born in Freeport, Maine. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. He’s had residencies at Nordic Artists Center, Norway; Skaftfell, Iceland; La Fragua, Spain; and the Vermont Studio Center. Hayes-Chute has exhibited at venues including MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; Portland Museum of Art; Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland; Entreé, Bergen, Norway; Marrakech Biennale, Morocco; Kinderhook & Caracas, Berlin; Sinne Gallery, Helsinki; The Drawing Center, New York; Combo, Cordoba; Tufts Gallery, Medford; Villa Noailles, France; and Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany.
Follow Ethan on Instagram: @ehc2000
Portrait credit: Nina Merikallio