Saya Woolfalk, Visual Artist, and Jeff Durham, Assistant Curator of Himalayan Art, Asian Art Museum
“Visualizing Consciousness” brings New York artist Saya Woolfalk and Asian Art Museum curator Jeff Durham together on the Berkeley campus to inaugurate BCSR’s new series, Berkeley Seminars in Art and Religion.
For this event, Woolfalk and Durham each give visual presentations on their work and Woolfalk’s new performance (September 4, 2014) responding to the Asian Art Museum’s exhibition, Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism (through October 26, 2014). BCSR Co-Director Mark Csikszentmihalyi moderates a discussion that follows.
Enter the Mandala presents 14th-century paintings of Buddhist mandalas or “cosmic maps.” These works are both elaborate and detailed representations of Himalayan Buddhist cosmos that are objects of meditation for Buddhist practitioners. In response to an invitation by the museum, Woolfalk produced a performance titled, ChimaTEK: Hybridity Visualization Mandala. ChimaTEK finds the Empathics, a fictional group of women who physically and culturally merge identities and cross species, becoming a fusion of animal and plant while taking on characteristics of various cultures. Woolfalk and curator Jeff Durham consider the creative influences and religious content in ChimaTEK and Enter the Mandala, specifically Buddhist conceptions of consciousness, hybridity, transformation, and ritual.
Jeff Durham is curator of Himalayan Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Jeff holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and has served as Professor of Religion at George Mason University, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and the University of North Carolina. With research focusing on visualization practice in esoteric religions, Jeff currently has visions of creating the first cross-cultural exhibition of esoteric art traditions on the West Coast.
Saya Woolfalk (Japan, 1979) is a New York based artist who uses science fiction and fantasy to re-imagine the world in multiple dimensions. She has exhibited at PS1/MoMA; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others. She is in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, California.
Visualizing Consciousness is co-presented by the Asian Art Museum-Chong-Moon-Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, the Department of Art Practice, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Special thanks to Marc Mayer, Educator for Public Programs, Asian Art Museum, and Brian Karl, Program Director, Headlands Center for the Arts.
The Berkeley Seminars in Art and Religion is a new series of talks and lectures organized by the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion. Scholars, professionals, and practitioners in architecture, design, film, literature, music, performance, and visual art are invited to present their work and ideas. The series is an opportunity for audiences to explore and engage with a rich and extensive body of creative work on topics in religion, past and present.
Photo: Chimera (detail), Saya Woolfalk, 2013.