Buddhism and Glocal Art

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Christine VIAL KAYSER, Langarts, France
Since John Cage Buddhism has for some time now been a marker of spiritualism in Western art. This trend was followed by Allan Kaprow, and also shared somewhat by Yves Klein. In the 1990s Wolfgang Laib and Marina Abramovic infused their practices with a sense of meditative silence and a search of holism which they related to Buddhism and Yoga. In the 1990s in China the reference to Zen also appears, albeit as an ambivalent sign, a search for a spiritual tradition, after the demise of Maoism, as well as an attempt to halt the dependence on Western art –especially on Duchamp and Warhol– and philosophy –especially Foucault and Marx. It was suggested that Duchamp was in fact influenced by Zen. The philosopher Li Zehou also tries to tie up Marxism and Taoism and Confucianism.

In this paper I would like to propose a reflection on the bridges established by artists between Buddhism and Western philosophies. Using visual and textual evidence I want to suggest that is it the actual proximity of transcendentalist Protestantism with Zen meditation concerning nature and the historical proximity of Greek philosophy, especially Skepticism (Pyrrhonism) with India, that explain a shared sense of detachment in Duchamp and Buddhism. It will be emphasized that such proximities weaken a sense of Eastern exceptionalism that is commonly associated with Buddhism, and in fact serve a political purpose, as a counterpower against Western exceptionalism.