Friday, July 31, 2009

Radical Nature and the monks from Tashi Llumpo Monastery

I have been lucky to see the monks from the Tashi Llumpo monastery at St Ethelbergha's and at Asia House where we had a day to study and have a chance to practice some of the spiritual offerings they make,including torma and butter sculpture, sand mandalas and block printing.
The monks made a small peace sand mandala during the day and it was great to see that practise again, with the ritual prayers and music.

There is something very moving about their work and it's a tragedy to think that it would be easier for me to go to Tibet now than any of the monks.

I also went along to the Barbicans Radical Nature exhibition, I am pleased that there seems to be more artists engaging with issues of ecology and the natural world, but the exhibition was a little bit of a disappointment. Perhaps because the exhibition had more in the way of video and installation, but it seemed rather bare.

I was struck by Mark Dions work, the little piece of travelling wilderness,"Wolf 2006" which was a stuffed wolf on a trailer. There was something powerful about the wolf even in it's preseved death. I watched most of CLUI's video of stills from photographing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline 2008" They are incredible images with some text charting the technical and engineering difficulties the construction of this longest oil pipeline in the US entailed.

The problem with video art is that you need to spend a long time watching them and when there are more than a couple in an exhibition it is hard to see much of them. A12 had a great idea, something I've thought about for some years myself, that of providing "zones of respite and contemplation within the built environment". They had built a small wooden structure that was mirrored on the inside, it was planted with grass and had a piece of topary and an urn full of ivy and maybe box. You could step inside and see the minature garden reflected around you.

Perhaps the pathos in the whole exhibition was that most of the plant life inside was not doing well, the Barbican is a really dark building in general and plants need light. Maybe that was an intentional part of the exhibition.

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