Category Archives: Photography

UM Museum Opens Photography Exhibit of Buddhist Caves

mogao-cave-north-wall-1943

The exhibit “Dunhuang through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” is now open at the UM Museum.

Images from China illustrate artistic and architectural achievements

JANUARY 16, 2017 BY CHRISTINA STEUBE

OXFORD, Miss. – Photographs of the intricately painted Mogao and Yulin Caves in Dunhuang, China are on exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum.

“Dunhuang Through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” features photographs taken of the caves by the Los in the 1940s. The nearly 500 caves containing artwork are in the northwestern area of China along the ancient Silk Road and are a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. The caves, which served as spaces for meditation and worship, were painted between the fourth and 14th centuries.
The exhibit opened Jan. 10 in conjunction with the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, held on the UM campus Jan. 13-15. The free exhibit runs through April 29, and an opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m. Jan. 31.

Joshua Howard, Croft associate professor of history and international studies and a Chinese historian, proposed this exhibit to the University Museum.

“These photographs have high artistic value,” Howard said. “James and Lucy Lo used natural light and often placed mirrors in the caves to create special lighting effects and create a sense of the caves’ spirituality.

“James Lo also experimented with his photo angles; for instance, shooting a 50-foot reclining Buddha from the vantage point of the head of the statue rather than from the feet looking toward the head. The result is a more intimate and serene shot of the Buddha. Other landscape photos they took give a sense of the harsh but beautiful desert terrain the caves inhabit.”
The collection of 31 black-and-white photographs is from the Lo Archive and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University. The Mogao and Yulin caves illustrate artistic and architectural achievements, as well as provide an intimate look at the history of Buddhism and other religions of the region.

Museum officials were excited about the opportunity to open the exhibit to conference attendees, said Robert Saarnio, museum director. The conference included workshops, panel discussions, lectures and film screenings of Asian poetry and literature, history, language, art, philosophy and politics.

“These are exactly the kinds of multidisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships that the museum seeks to foster and welcome, wherein great art and artifact content can be exhibited in such close correspondence to curricular, research and teaching endeavors,” Saarnio said.
The museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

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The Buddhists Vs. The Billionaire

03Radio Free Europe
PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY AMOS CHAPPLE

In Russia’s Ural Mountains, a small group of Buddhists led by a veteran of the U.S.S.R.’s Afghanistan war has spent the past 21 years establishing a monastery on an isolated mountaintop. But it sits on land claimed by a company belonging to one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs. After years of delays, a date has now been set for the complex’s removal. RFE/RL’s Amos Chapple visited the monastery for the inside story.

[follow the link for the the rest…]

A Tibetan monk is communicating with the world through his stunning Instagram feed

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Will Haskell

Jul. 17, 2015, 3:28 PM 39,463 1

The life of a Buddhist monk is filled with study, meditation, and… Instagram?

That’s the case for @gdax, or Gedun Wangchuk. He’s a Buddhist monk living and Instagramming in Tibet, Huffington Post reports.

His account, first spotted by the blog Redbubble, depicts the beauty and peace of his daily life. Instagram itself appears to be the only outlet that’s been able to get in contact with the hard-to-track-down Wangchuk. They interviewed him for their blog.

Wangchuk’s account features shots of the Tibetan countryside, wildlife, his fellow monks, and places of worship. He even posts the occasional video.

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A photobook in search of context and sequence: The Monks Of Rural Thailand

monks rural thailandReview by Jeffrey Martin

Cracker, Lee. The Monks Of Rural Thailand. San Francisco: Blurb, 2014.

While American photographer Lee Cracker’s images have appeared in mass circulation publications, he has taken lately to self-publishing a number of Thai-based projects, including books on the 2014 coup and a collection of Bangkok street images.  If these are in any way similar to this volume on Buddhist monastics, they would benefit greatly from an editor familiar with the topic, and more fundamentally with visual narration.

The electronic version of The Monks of Rural Thailand is a 71-page pdf containing several lovely images of Thai bhikkhus engaged in typical monastic behavior. The images are accompanied by a brief description of Thai monasticism and a handful of Buddha quotes on the nature of suffering and liberation.  

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One of the impressive images featured in The Monks of Rural Thailand.

But the story, such as there is, feels incomplete and lacking direction.  Most of the images appear to have been taken at public events.  There are few private moments, such as monks in their quarters, or monks studying, or monks meditating.  But even if there were, it might be difficult for viewers unfamiliar with their world to understand what they are seeing.  Perhaps Cracker prefers a visual presentation that doesn’t require text, but I suppose the average viewer coming to this book would like to know what is pictured.  As someone who has studied Buddhism formally, as well as practiced among Asian Buddhists, I have some familiarity with Buddhist monastics, but even so a few of the images in this collection left me wondering exactly what was happening.  Cracker doesn’t even tell us in what part of Thailand these photos were taken.  In addition, sequencing is opaque.  There appear to be a set number of activities – praying, walking alms rounds, receiving donations, and taking part in ordination ceremonies – but the images are not suitably grouped and some seem to have no particular value in telling a story. Continue reading

Jizo, Snow

Hiroshi Hamaya: New Year’s Visit with Jizo, Niigata Prefecture, 1940

Hiroshi Hamaya: New Year’s Visit with Jizo, Niigata Prefecture, 1940

The above image, showing young Japanese trekking through deep snow with a Buddhist statute, appears in the article “The Japan Beneath the Snow,” by Ian Buruma in New York Review of Books.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860 – About the Exhibition

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.32.44 AMVictoria and Albert Museum
24 June – 11 October 2015
Photography, Room 38a
Admission free

This captivating exhibition of the pioneering 19th-century British photographer Captain Linnaeus Tripe features over 60 of his most striking views of Indian and Burmese landscape and architecture, taken between 1852-1860. Through these early photographs, Tripe explored the possibilities of this new medium, showcasing and documenting archaeological sites, monuments and landscapes, rarely seen in the West. Tripe creates an impression of the world around him, combining the keen eye of a surveyor with the sensibilities of an artist, while giving testimony to his emerging skills as photographer.

Organised by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Thapinyu Pagoda, August 20-24, 1855. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach, Directors, and Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2012. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Thapinyu Pagoda, August 20-24, 1855. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach, Directors, and Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2012. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Tension of Art and Ego Drives the ‘Monk With a Camera’

monkwithacamera_filmreview_splash650from PopMatters
By Cynthia Fuchs 18 December 2014

“Where you place that lens—the height, the angle, the settings—is an integral part of what you capture. Where I place myself determines my shot. All of these things change everything!”
—Nicky Vreeland

“So, would you like to see my girlfriend?” With this, the Buddhist monk Geshe Thupten Lhundup leads the camera through a yellow door, in order to meet another camera. “She has beautiful German eyes,” he observes as he pulls a dust cover off his lovely Leica, then amends, “A beautiful German eye.”

And so, Monk With a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland establishes what seems at first its central, titular relationship. But even as the grandson of Diana Vreeland demonstrates his good humor here, the film about his “life and journey” offers another, more complicated view. As the documentary goes on to track Nicky’s movements, through his past and through his evolving philosophy, it also poses questions, concerning the relationships between material and spiritual lives, community and individual identities, beliefs and representations.

Each of these relationships poses a dilemma, and all might be understood to pose questions for everyone. To be sure, Nicky Vreeland embodies a rather singular example: the grandson of longtime Vogue editor Diana Vreeland and the son of a diplomat who grew up living in privilege all over the world, he found his way into photography by working with people like John Avedon. It’s a set of unusual circumstances Nicky discusses for the film, as do his father “Frecky”, his brother Alexander, and his stepbrother Ptolemy Tompkins, as well as friends and associates like Richard Gere. On one level, they’re the sort of talking heads you expect, recalling his dandyish fashion sense and marveling at his choice to give up his nice shoes and pocket squares for the austerity of a monastery. Continue reading