Friday, December 18, 2009

Buddhist Performance Art

Zhang Huan is a Buddhist performance artist who takes as his practice his performances. This is unusual, but then again, some people thought Virupa was unusual.

The piece above is a statue of Buddha, made entirely of the ash of consumed incense. He opened by revealing the face, which caused the statue to begin to crumble. Ultimately, the statue became nothing but a pile of ash on the floor, and then the wind began to blow it away.

In addition to what I regard as the work's useful message, this was also intended to evoke the desecration of Buddhist images by Red Guards, during the so-called Cultural Revolution -- quite possibly the most disgraceful episode in human history, 1966-1976.

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