Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zen Again & Again

Hakuin Ekaku, 1685-1768, Two Blind Men on a Bridge. Ink on paper, 11 x 33 in. Man’yo-an Collection.

October is Zen Month here at Japan Society! Starting on October 1st, and continuing until January, the new exhibit, The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin, opens with a veritable onslaught of Zen-related events following. The "Here & Zen" series includes lectures on art and lifestyle, performances, film screenings, workshops, as well as a second, free-of-charge exhibition.

On Saturday October 2nd, Stephen Addiss heads the symposium Hear the Sound of One Hand: Reflections on the Art of Zen Master Hakuin about the influence of Zen on artistic expression in Japan. Addiss is a co-curator of the exhibition with his wife Audrey Yoshiko Seo. Both are respected and prolific writers on Zen and art, and they wrote the exhibition catalogue. They are joined by Matthew Welch, Curator of Japanese and Korean Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and David Rosand, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University.

The next weekend, on October 8th and 9th, actor-director Yoshi Oida brings his one man show, Interrogations: Words of the Zen Masters to Japan Society. Interrogations is a comical play about a Zen master addressing several koans to a student to test him, and to see if he has reached enlightenment. The play is accompanied with live music by Berlin-based experimental musician Dieter Trüstedt. Interrogations premiered in 1979 and has been performed by Oida and Trüstedt throughout the world (this summer it stopped in Barcelona). It’s a true classic of the genre, and offers something for Zen novices, adepts, and masters alike!

On October 15th, Japan Society screens Masaki Kobayashi's epic ghost-film omnibus Kwaidan. It’s made up of four separate, thematically related, traditional Japanese ghost stories, and is by turns hypnotic, jarring, and meditative.

Field to Table: the Role of Vegetables in the Japanese Diet, is a lecture by Elizabeth Andoh, a Japanese food expert and cookbook author, as well as Masato Nishihara, head chef at Kijitsu Restaurant. Japanese cuisine boasts an impressive vegetarian tradition, because Buddhist doctrine limits, and sometimes prohibits, the consumption of meat.

In addition to the main gallery exhibit an additional show entitled oxherding features ink paintings by Max Gimblett and poems by Lewis Hyde. Together they examine similar themes to Hakuin, but from a contemporary perspective. As inspiration, the exhibition takes the famous Zen parable, "The Ten Ox Herding Pictures", about tending and maintaining discipline in the mind for gaining enlightenment. Hyde as well as psychiatrist and author Mark Epstein present a lecture as well: Mindful Living, examining the ox herding parable and describing ways to map its Zen ideas onto Western lives.

A number of workshops are held as well. oxherding artist Max Gimblett leads four sumi ink painting workshops from October to January, Lewis Hyde offers a writing workshop, and world-famous shakuhachi musician Akikazu Nakamura teaches missoku Zen breathing meditation in October.

Ticket sales for the lectures, performances and workshops have just been released online, so get them while they’re hot, and get ready to expand your minds!

This cow is maditating on the ancient koan, "nothingness" 


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