A special online commission for Chisenhale Gallery’s website produced by Shen Xin as part of our 21st Century programme. Forms Escape: Prologue is presented as the preface to a forthcoming moving image work. This online commission documents a live event, which took place at Chisenhale Gallery in March 2016 and comprised presentations by three London-based students of Tibetan Buddhism, interspersed with screenings of three short videos.
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In this new work Shen examines the practice of Tibetan Buddhism in Europe through what she regards as afflictions of contemporary capitalism’s relationship with power, specifically appropriation, objectification and exploitation. Shen addresses each affliction or ‘suffering’ in the three videos. Compiled from an array of online footage, the videos exist not as autonomous works, but rather as tools to navigate between the living and working conditions of cultural workers and the cultural conditioning of Tibetan Buddhism in Europe.
The three speakers are students of Sakya and Karma Kagyu Tibetan Buddhism. They were invited to respond to the ‘sufferings’ presented in the videos, drawing on their spiritual practice as well as their personal and professional backgrounds, which include corporate law, business development in a startup company and teaching.
Forms Escape: Prologue, explores the intertwining conditions of appropriation, objectification and exploitation as symptoms of political crisis as well as spiritual crisis. Shen draws on her research into contemporary Tibetan Buddhist practices in Europe to make visible the relations between these contemporary power structures. Using the time codes below, the viewer is invited to navigate the work almost as a manual or guide to the three ‘sufferings’.
00:00:29 - Video Material C
00:05:30 - Michael Stott, Dechen Buddhist Centre London
00:09:45 - Video Material B
00:15:35 - Asia Bogdanska, Diamond Way Buddhist Centre London
00:22:27 - Video Material A
00:28:36 - Anna Moroz, Diamond Way Buddhist Centre London
Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century programme 2015-16 is supported by Marie and Joe Donnelly.
With a special thanks to: Asia Bogdanska, Christian Eichinger, Anna Moroz, Simina Neagu, Michael Stott, Lama Jampa Thaye, Dechen Buddhist Centres London and Diamond Way Buddhist Meditation Centre.