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Radical Influence of Buddhism on Art


Event details

The Radical Influence of Buddhism on Art: Artists Convene in Victoria

The public is invited to attend two special presentations, as part of In the Present Moment: Buddhism, Contemporary Art and Social Practice. A Research Convening. These events are organized by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in partnership with the University of Victoria, Faculty of Fine Arts, Multifaith Chapel and Centre for the Study of Religion in Society.

On Friday Oct. 25 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. the public is invited to The Orion Opening Keynote Lecture, Lecture on Nothing by Kay Larson. Larson is an acclaimed art critic, columnist, and author who wrote feature articles and art criticism for New York magazine for fourteen years. When that job ended, she began Zen Buddhist practice at Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York. Larson will discuss John Cage’s seminal text, Lecture on Nothing, first performed at the 8th Street Artists’ Club in New York in 1949. The lecture is written as a piece of music organized around a series of “empty” time intervals or durations. The central statement of the lecture, ‘I have nothing to say and I’m saying it’ reads as an oxymoron at first, but when considered further, reveals Cage’s inquiry into Buddhism. 

This lecture takes place at the University of Victoria, Phillip T Young Recital Hall, and will be followed by a performance of Cage’s text, scored by Kay Larson, directed by Christopher Butterfield, (Director, School of Music), and featuring local artists and performers.

On Sunday Oct. 27 from 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., the public is invited to attend The Orion Keynote Conversation, Beautiful Trouble: A Conversation on Activism, Art and Buddhism with Suzanne Lacy, artist and Professor¸ Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California (Los Angeles) and Jodie Evans, author, activist, co-director, CODEPINK (Los Angeles), taking place at the University of Victoria, Hickman Building, 105 Lecture Theatre. Suzanne Lacy is a pioneering artist in social art practice who was introduced to Buddhism in the mid-1980s. Earlier this year, Lacy was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), titled Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here. Jodie Evans is a cultural producer and global activist who has worked with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and the Zen master, Thich Naht Hahn, who advocated for a notion of engaged Buddhism during the Vietnam War. Join in a conversation between these two long-time friends, exploring the relationship between art and activism, activism and Buddhism, and the spaces in between.

“UVic’s Visual Arts Department is very pleased to be hosting this AGGV-organised event in conjunction with the Faculty of Fine Arts. The world-class calibre of the invited artists and scholars makes this a key event in the study of the immense impact of Buddhist teachings on modern and contemporary art,” said UVic Visual Arts Chair Paul Walde

In the Present Moment: Buddhism, Contemporary Art and Social Practice is a multi-phase research and exhibition project led by AGGV Curator, Haema Sivanesan. The project takes a chronological and thematic approach towards examining the impact of Buddhism on art in North America from the post-war period (c1950) to the present.

Jon Tupper, Director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria added, "the AGGV's collaboration with UVic to present this research convening is of great value, enhancing our community outreach and engaging students and faculty with the Gallery's mission. These two Orion lectures are free and open to all and promise to entertain, provoke and challenge preconceived ideas of both art and Buddhism."


Research support is generously provided by The Robert H N Ho Family Foundation, Hong Kong and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York.



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