Monday, 21 November 2011

What to See in a Buddhist Cave?

The UBC Kameyama Lecture Series, with the UBC Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program, presents a lecture by Dr. Eugene Wang, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art at Harvard University:

“What to See in a Buddhist Cave?”

Date: Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Time: 4:30 – 7:00 PM
Place: C.K. Choi Building, Room 120, 1855 West Mall, UBC Point Grey Campus
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

The cave murals in Dunhuang show episodes from the Buddha’s past and present lives: his bodily sacrifices, demon-subjugation, and so on. The pictorial program maps out zones of past and future, and features the images of a sinner emerging from hell and a prognosticator of rebirth who reads human skulls. What is the agenda? Why does the cave need these images? Most confounding of all is the question: why even bother to have a pictorial program there? The lecture will explore the relationship between the physical media (painting and sculpture) and their implied mental dimensions, such as meditation, repentance, and visualization, integral to Buddhist culture.

Professor Eugene Yuejin Wang is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art at Harvard University. He was born in Jiangsu, China, completing his graduate studies at Fudan University in Shanghai (M.A. 1986) and at Harvard (Ph.D. 1997). He is also the Art History associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004). His book on Shaping the Lotus Sutra: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China (2005) has received the Academic Achievement Award in Japan. His articles have been published in The Art Bulletin, Art History, Critical Inquiry, Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics, Public Culture, and elsewhere, and cover a wide range of subjects including ancient bronze mirrors, Buddhist murals and sculptures, reliquaries, scroll paintings, calligraphy, woodblock prints, architecture, photography, and films.

UBC’s Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program events are made possible by the generous support of The Tung Lin Kok Yuen Canada Foundation, in collaboration with the Institute of Asian Research and Department of Asian Studies.

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