Reached Utopia Project

Himachal Pradesh, Dhramsahala, November, 2011

Interdisciplinary project ”Reached Utopia’’ is dedicated to the Austrian alpinist Heinrich Harerr. His residence in Tibet from 1944 until 1951 reconsiders the main point in which European culture meets utopian, ideal society. In today’s world Tibetan society in Dhramsahala is the last remain of the Platonic state. Dalai Lama did not come back to the Tibet but the world became hypostatized by Tibetan spirit. Tibet as a real place became utopia, just as Avalon from the legends and missions of Paraguay reductions. The project consists of a residential stay, research and artistic intervention in the area Dhramsahala, India. It involved visual artists, writers and philosophers from Austria, Germany, England and Croatia, which will create together with local artists and Tibetan doctors. Each of three parts of the project touches one part of Tibetan heritage, spirituality and culture. The first part deals with the legacy of Tibetan art school. This field is very important especially because most of the authors come from the Anglo-German influential areas where, as we know it emerged the world’s art history. However, we know that history is exclusively the history of the Western art. Artistic creation originated from the European spiritual matrix, and what came out of Tibet are two completely different worlds. Within postmodernism their overlap and exchange of information has finally become possible. This part of the project will be realized in cooperation with Thangde Gastal School of Painting, and consists of drawing. Each day artists will create one drawing in the technique black ink on paper. The drawing will be a diary of their residence in Dhramsahala. In this diary they will describe journey, landscape, people they will meet and spiritual states they are going trough. The idea of drawing diary is to record daily life in a documentary way, as engravers from the time of the worlds’ great discoveries. Students of the Thangde Gastal School of Painting will also do their diary drawings. Together with the artists, participants of the project they will create a painting in the style of Tibetan art school. The second part deals with the land, and its meaning for the spiritual heritage. The land has become part of the reached utopia for the Tibet, after the exile. The land has remained in Himalayas, but her soul is moved to the other location. In the European culture is very strong analogy with Jerusalem as a place where the holiness of the land lives. From the utopian premise of Heavenly Jerusalem, trough the blood of conquered Kingdom of Jerusalem, Europe came to the Jerusalem as a pilgrimage site, where it becomes free, consecrated and renewed. The project consists of land art intervention which will be realized by all the participants in a shape of the labyrinth. The idea of the labyrinth, as initial place of the search for our self, has analogies in all worlds’ religious and spiritual teachings.

Also labyrinth as a real object exists no more, there are only legends, notes, gardens and floor decorations that simulate it. Labyrinth will be made of materials found on the spot, stones, wood and various herbs. The third part deals with Tibetan medicine, astrology and philosophical and religious teachings. For the European discourse, Tibetan religiosity has always been associated with the esoteric and pseudo-esoteric teachings. As we know, the first Tibetan Buddhist texts (such as “The Voice of Silence “) came to Europe through Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society. For the Aristotelian, dualistic way of thinking in which the spirit and the matter are two different things, Tibetan spiritual thought is quite incomprehensible, unless it is conscious by pure gnosis. The project will be realized in cooperation with the Tibetan institute of medicine and astrology Men Tsee Khang. The participants will explore the fields of work of the Institute together with professors and Tibetan doctors. Special attention will be devoted to the knowledge about medical plants, the places and the ways they are collected. The project participants will take part in expedition of collecting plants. Also, there will be opened discussion with the people who use this kind of garden therapy. In this part of the project artists will be able to realize their work in media site specific, installation or social art. The mission of the project ’’Reached utopia’’ is to interpolate parts of the traditional Tibetan culture and heritage in contemporary art practice, through different forms of artistic actions. The way this culture exists is unique. Tibetan heritage does not need any progress or evolution in western type of art. What we need is to re-find right to difference and awakened ideals.

Organizer: Next – Graz, Artenativa – Zagreb
Partner institutions: Tibetan institute of medicine and astrology Men Tsee Khang and Thangde Gastal School of Painting
Participants: Luise Kloos, Thangde Gastal, Mark Gisbourne, Srećko Horvat, Martina Mezak, Josip Zanki, Tomislav Buntak