“How does one create an ecological artwork that doesn’t make more waste in the world?” asked composer and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk in conjunction with her 2013 music-theater piece, On Behalf of Nature. What is the artist’s role if not—in the words of poet Gary Snyder—to be “a spokesperson for non-human entities communicating to the human realm through dance or song?” Monk meets Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman to converse publicly—for the first time—about ephemerality, karma, and the place where Buddhism, artistic expression, and environmental concerns intersect.
Co-presented by the Garrison Institute, the Rubin Museum of Art and the Artist and Buddhist Contemplatives Project
Tickets on sale September 5 for Museum members and September 6 for the general public
About the Speakers
Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer, filmmaker, and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films,, and installations. Considered one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer of what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance.” Over the last six decades Monk has received numerous awards and honors including a MacArthur “Genius” Award, the 2017 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, and a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Monk is a student of Acharya Pema Chodron. In 1999 she performed a “Vocal Offering” for His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of the World Sacred Music Festival in Los Angeles. Celebrated internationally, Monk‘s work has been presented at major venues throughout the world. Her newest music theater work, Cellular Songs, premiered to sold-out audiences at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2018.
Robert A.F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, a nonprofit affiliated with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and dedicated to the publication of translations of important artistic and scientific treatises from the Tibetan Tengyur.
Thurman is known as a popularizer of the Buddha’s teachings. He is an author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics, and culture, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, Circling the Sacred Mountain,Essential Tibetan Buddhism, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, Worlds of Transformation, Inner Revolution, Infinite Life, the Jewel Tree of Tibet, Why The Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World, and, most recently, with Sharon Salzberg, Love Your Enemies.
Images and text via The Rubin Museum
Photography of Meredith Monk by Julieta Cervantes