Discover more from Prem Krishnamurthy: Department of Transformation
Dept of Transformation gathers in NYC to lay Groundwork for things ahead
Dear dear friends, loved ones, collaborators,
What a time. I’d like to invite you to take a deep breath to think of those who have been killed in Gaza, Israel, and the world around over the past six weeks, and those who are dying right now. With the situation in Gaza growing more horrific every day, there are many ways for people in the US to support a ceasefire: by calling representatives, finding actions nearby, donating to humanitarian organizations—and, throughout, continuing to engage in meaningful dialogue with others, even when it’s challenging.
Amid these crises, I keep asking myself what the role of art can be. The closest I’ve come is that it gathers people together—through both aesthetic pleasure and friction—for communion, conversation, and change.
From now until March 2024, Department of Transformation will be in residence at Canal Projects, a new non-profit in New York City. Our program, entitled Groundwork, represents an opportunity to invite artists, thinkers, therapists, and others to workshop new formats for learning and healing. On a personal level, the residency is a chance for me to reconnect with NYC after the itinerancy of the D🌎T Spring 2023 Teaching Tour. There will be book groups, mindfulness sessions, shared meals, therapy tutorials, and—of course—karaoke.
Grounding, our opening program this Friday, November 17 from 7–9pm, will explore questions of art and transformation in an experimental, participatory talk show format. Our guests include poet, artist, and meditation teacher An Duplan, community-engaged artist and gong practitioner Naoco Wowsugi, and others. The event will include multiple modes: meditation, journaling, conversation, small group interactions, a sound healing session, and even collective singing. Those who remember Present!—the Zoom talk show I hosted as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic—may recognize aspects of the approach. Please register here.
For people who are not in New York, there are other ways to take part in the program: for example, through Naoco Wowsugi’s participatory project, P.P.P.P.P.P. (People! Practice Participating in Participatory Projects, Please.). This is an extension of Wowsugi’s multi-year conceptual artwork, in which the artist took part in other people’s projects as a secret super-participant. Wowsugi is using Groundwork to share the project publicly and invite others to try it out. As Wowsugi asks, “Why are artists always seen as the leaders or organizers? Why can’t you be an artist by being a participant?” You can download a printable version of the manifesto here.
If you’re looking for other opportunities to gather and learn with others, our Groundwork Reading Group will meet monthly through March. Organized with thinker and writer David Giles, we’ll be focusing on transformative texts suggested by those attending and chosen through a collective process. The first meet-up is Wednesday, December 6, from 6:30–8:30pm. You can register here by sharing a little bit about yourself and suggesting books for us to read together.
D🌎T’s program in New York will unfold over the winter. Future contributors include artists, thinkers, and therapists such as Asad Raza, Stephen Hanmer D’Elía, Tamara Sussman, and others. You can stay tuned through our newly updated website, courtesy of Stella Friedenberger and Benedikt Rottstegge of MENSCHMASCHINE. And please do stop by Canal Projects if you’re in the neighborhood—we’d love to welcome you for tea in our lower level library space.
I’m keeping this newsletter on the short side; there are many other things worth paying attention to. But I’m sending all my love in all of your directions and hope to hug you, soon, wherever that might be.
In hope & prayer,
P.S. These past days I’ve been joining Jewish Voice for Peace’s “Power Half-Hour for Gaza” at 3pm ET. It’s a moment for grief and action, with coordinated calls to representatives to ask for a ceasefire. The Power Half-Hour feels connective, motivating, and even has music! You can register for the Zoom here. Hope to see you there.