A CLOSE UP series event
Can a virus be both an affliction and a messenger? Four virtuosic artists—blazing South Indian singer Ganavya Doraiswamy, transcendent improvisatory dancer Michael Schumacher, pathbreaking calligrapher Wang Dongling, and fearlessly individual director Peter Sellars—together, during COVID, created an hour-long simultaneous meditation that explores two pages from the visionary, radiant Vimalakirti Sutra, a Buddhist text from the first century CE. A businessman, having chosen a path of illness towards spiritual awakening, teaches the visitors at his deathbed with depth and penetration: how to face life with no illusions. The artists, across three continents and three artforms, interpret the text individually and collaboratively, sharing a story of acute pain, deep healing, and radical transformation. Produced by the Fisher Center at Bard and the Boethius Initiative at UCLA.
“Extraordinary … Their human bodies, their environments, the sounds around them, and the sutra merge into a single expression unfolding before and within us … It is, for us, a transformative experience.” –Tricycle
These screenings are made possible through support from the Fisher Center at Bard, New York Life, Barbara and Sven Huseby, Columbia University’s Division of Narrative Medicine, Columbia University School of the Arts, June and Simon Li, The Getty and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.