Munkanon offered participants the opportunity to take part in a life-changing ‘self-help’ training programme, run by a clandestine hierarchical organisation, and staffed by appealing chipmunk-like characters. They operated a friendly yet persuasive public front, encouraging recruits to sign up and take part. Once ‘on board’ participants progressed through a gradated program of activity with the organisation’s claims of improved (perhaps superhuman) personal abilities as their goal.

Within Munkanon participants were required to take part in a variety of tasks and activities, from group games and physical exercises, to mental training and tests. Initially these activities – and the terminology that surrounded them – might have seemed incomprehensible or absurd, but as participants progressed, the internal logic of the system was revealed and their investment rewarded as they began to feel like ‘insiders’. In order to facilitate this shift in perspective, participants were required to take an active part in recruiting and training others upon reaching a particular level within a given activity. Their commitment to Munkanon confirmed, they were then charged with the task of going back into the outside world ‘on tour’, recruiting additional participants for Munkanon. Aiming at self-perpetuation Munkanon drew participants further and further in, the promise of enlightenment always just around the next corner.

“We seem to have the hang of this Munkanon experience. The question now is how far should we go along with it. Though not one individual seems to know exactly where we are going in the labyrinth of rooms and corridors created in this temporary holding pen. I'm musing on this question – of just how far we're all expected to go – playing with belief and faith, with mindgames and tasks.”

The authoritarian characters, disorientation and complete submission to seemingly arbitrary or alien rules.

Would you like a nut?

In 2 hours you will return in a completely different state than before.

The shutter door heaves open, and there in front of us, four individuals wearing ill-fitting overalls start repeating a Munkanon mantra which we are exhorted to repeat.

Just how far we're all expected to go – playing with belief and faith, with mindgames and tasks.

Resistance is impossible, after all it's only a game!

Munkanon was a commission for Donau Festival (Krems – Austria) in 2008 and was supported by Arts Council England. The work was subsequently redeveloped and presented as The Munkanon Centre as part of Dorm at The Model (Sligo – Ireland) and The Knot (Berlin – Germany) in 2010.