exhibition of cartographies explores concepts of sacred geography

Kailash Cartographies features artists from India, China, Nepal and the United States who engage with contemporary issues of landscape and sacredness using various media

On view at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center's Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue, The New School, through April 2, 2017

A still from "Songs of Chuchepati Camp," a video by Charwei Tsai & Tsering Tashi Gyalthang is on view in Kailash Cartographies at The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center's Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries.

NEW YORK, March 23, 2017 —​ The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) at The New School's Parsons School of Design and the India China Institute (ICI) at The New School present Kailash Cartographies, a multi-media exhibition of artists from India, China, Nepal, and the United States who explore conceptions of sacred geography, particularly in the Himalayas.

The artists in the exhibition pose questions about the nature of both the sacred and the secular by drawing on the points of connection with landscapes and lived worlds. The photographs, videos, works on paper, and installations deploy cartographic modes that are both personal and political.

The title of the exhibition refers to Mount Kailash, the symbolic center of the Buddhist and Bön cosmos and the seat of Shiva for Hindus. Although associated with a multiplicity of geographical sites and religious representations, its earthly manifestation is most often located in Tibet.

“It is the simultaneously singular and plural aspect of this sacred geography that caught our imagination,” said Sreshta Rit Premnath, curator of the exhibition and participating artist. “Every gesture within such a geography is both specifically located yet can be powerfully invoked elsewhere.”

The exhibition emerges from a three-year research project of the India-China Institute focused on sacred landscapes and sustainable futures in the Himalayas. In conjunction with this endeavor, a group of artists initiated creative explorations in 2015 and 2016. Many of the works in the exhibition were the direct result of a creative workshop convened in Kathmandu in March 2016.

Featured artists are Atul Bhalla, Kevin Bubriski, Vibha Galhotra, Sreshta Rit Premnath, Ashmina Ranjit, Nitin Sawhney, Radhika Subramaniam, Charwei Tsai & Tsering Tashi Gyalthang, Zheng Bo & Jiang Chao and Qiu Zhijie.

Programming associated with Kalish Cartographies include:

Artist Talk: Bo Zheng with Steven Lam

Bo Zheng (born in Beijing, 1974; lives and works in Hong Kong) is an artist, writer, and teacher, committed to socially and ecologically engaged art. He investigates the past and imagines the future from the perspectives of marginalized communities and marginalized plants. He has worked with a number of museums and art spaces in Asia and Europe, most recently Cass Sculpture Foundation (Chichester, UK), TheCube Project Space (Taipei), and Villa Vassilieff (Paris). He will be joined in conversation with Steven Lam, independent curator and director for the School of Art and Design at SUNY Purchase. Wednesday, March 15, 7-8:30 p.m. Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Ave.

Closing Reception

New School faculty, members and ICI staff share stories about doing fieldwork in India, Nepal and Tibet as part of a three-year research project on religion, ecology, and culture in the Himalayas. A photo presentation highlighting some of the key areas from the field research will also be featured. Thursday, March 30, 5-7 p.m. Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Ave.

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center is an award-winning campus center for The New School's Parsons School of Design that combines learning and public spaces with exhibition galleries to provide an important new downtown destination for art and design programming. The mission of the Center is to generate an active dialogue on the role of innovative art and design in responding to the contemporary world. Its programming encourages an interdisciplinary examination of possibility and process, linking the university to local and global debates. The center is named in honor of its primary benefactor, New School Trustee and Parsons Board of Governors Member Sheila C. Johnson. The design by Rice+Lipka Architects is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.

Parsons School of Design at The New School has been a pioneer in art and design education for more than a century. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons offers rigorous training that allows for student collaboration across five thematic schools, which were recently created to better facilitate interdisciplinary learning. An integral part of The New School, Parsons builds on the university’s legacy of progressive ideals, scholarship, and pedagogy. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

Established in 2005, the India China Institute (ICI) is dedicated to teaching and explore new research and to provide opportunities for both The New School and our international network of innovative scholars, leaders and opinion-makers to engage in critical inquiries involving China, India and the United States. Within the past decade ICI has been successful in the promotion of the academic and public understanding on these issues through providing research and scholarship opportunities through fellowships, courses, publications, public lectures and conferences.


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Media Contact:

Scott Gargan,
The New School
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