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Seekers, 2012
Photographs, 18” x 12”

Created during artist residency at the Dharamshala International Artists Workshop 2012, (Khoj International Artists Association White Crane Films)

for the exiled and lonely
always searching for home
let’s open our warm hearts
let’s give them love and compassion *

Seekers series is named after a ‘special branch’ of Tibetan scholars whose job is to search modern day Tibet for precious cultural artefacts and sacred scriptures, which were hidden throughout Tibet in the aftermath of Chinese invasion of 1959.  Many of those treasures are still unaccounted for.  Seekers embark on their secret missions in the modern day landscape, armed with knowledge of maps, texts, landmarks, oral accounts and coded clues.  These may offer a starting point of their quests, but need to be combined with new ways of self-orientation in a land, where, in the words of a contemporary Tibetan poet, Bhuchung D Sonam, “the roads have since changed”.**

The work is an allegorical re-consideration of this process, with focus on young generation of Tibetans, who were born in exile, many of whom have never been to their homeland, and whose identity is rooted in cultural displacement.  Their quest is to me a powerful metaphor for a journey we are all on, towards our individual visions of ‘home’.

The photographs adopt colours of prayer flags, which are traditionally used to bless the surroundings and in Buddhist healing ceremonies.  The five colours are associated with the elements: blue symbolizes sky/space, white – air/wind, red – fire, green – water, and yellow – earth.  According to Tibetan medicine, harmony is produced through the balance of the five elements. The work contemplates inner landscape of longing, hope, and prayer, the resources which the young Seekers use whilst asserting their identity in exile.

*   Bhuchung D. Sonam, March for Freedom, in Songs From A Distance, Published by Tibet Writes Books, 2009, p. 46, an anthem for the global Tibet Support Group.

**  Bhuchung D. Sonam, Just Shut Up, in Songs From A Distance, Published by Tibet Writes Books, 2009, p. 24

***

ABOUT THE RESIDENCY:

Dharamshala International Artists Workshop, (Khoj International Artists Assocciation / White Crane Arts and Media, 20 Oct – 1 Nov 2012).

Curatorial Team: Pooja Sood, Curator, Founding Member & Director, Khoj International Artists’ Association, Asmita Rangari (‘Andi’), Curator, Khoj International Artists’ Association, Ritu Sarin, Filmmaker/Artist, Founding Member, White Crane Arts & Media, Tenzing Sonam, Filmmaker/Artist, Founding Member, White Crane Arts & Media

Critic: Latika Gupta

Artists: Bchuchung D Sonam (Dharamshala/Tibet), Karma Sichoe(Dharamshala/Tibet), Aradhana Seth (Goa, India), Ayisha Abraham (Bangaluru, India), Tejal Shah (Mumbai, India), Zuleikha Chaudhari (New Delhi, India),Aman Mojadidi (Afghanistan), Ania Dabrowska (Poland / London), Erdenebayar Monkhor (Mongolia), Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav (Mongolia), Tsherin Sherpa(Nepal / USA), Kesang Lamdark (Tibet / Switzerland)

Khoj International Artist Association (New Delhi, India) has a long tradition of running workshops and residencies that offer international and Indian-based artists time and space for exchange and development of new ideas.  These often take place in locations around India, which are removed from the established centers of contemporary art production.

In 2012, Khoj teamed up with White Crane Films (founded by filmmakers/artists Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam) to bring the workshop to Dharamshala, a rapidly expanding global destination for pilgrims and tourists.

The participating artists had an opportunity to engage with the complex social and political history and current significance of Dharamshala, to produce works that addressed issues of local identity, culture and politics.

The workshop culminated in an Open Day exhibition in Mc Loeod Ganj, exile home of the Dalai Lama, the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile, and home to a growing Tibetan Diaspora.

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