wood, Tibetan paper, katag, plastic tubes, acrylic paint
75 x 75 cm
Black Sun Red Sun questions the possibilities, or impossibilities, of Tibetan culture reassembling itself in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. It is a courageously strong statement about the lived reality of that time, and its ongoing ramifications into the present. These days, common rhetoric of great suffering in all of China during the Cultural Revolution tends, when focused on Tibet, to lament the destruction of monasteries and statues. At the center of Red Sun, a headless Buddha bronze statue, subsequently purchased in the Barkhor, attests to this destruction. But Red Sun, with its red veins scattering blood in all directions and clear spherical tears surrounding the ruin of Shakyamuni, also commands memory and history to the destruction of human life and cultural life. Black Sun images the fear that Tibetan life has been forever changed and something in the collective heart shattered beyond repair. Nortse reflected on the meaning of the materials, saying the red blood spilt has dried and turned black, the Buddha shape is formed of broken glass and some barley seeds. To rebuild after a culture has been destroyed, scattered and lost is, to understate, very difficult. At this late date comes an unprecedented expression of sorrow and dread, mitigated perhaps only by the use of completely Tibetan materials and the present cultural life within which they circulate. Two tiny red feet on the handmade paper represent the path tread so far; one looks down in horror upon all that has been trampled under foot, but perhaps too has the choice of how to proceed from here. Finally, Nortse urges that inevitable movement into the future not forget the sufferings of the past.
text by Leigh Miller Sangster
photograph courtesy of Jason Sangster