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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
71 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Atta Kim ON-AIR Project 105-1, The Self-Portrait Series, 100 Men (Tibetan), 2005 Chromogenic print Courtesy of the artist herself as a practicing Buddhist.) Yet most of them speak of a wordless affinity, a heartfelt longing—something “always believed in,” as black Chicago-born Theaster Gates says to writer Mary Jane Jacob in the catalog. None of them uses traditional Buddhist art forms. All of them sense the subtle heart of emptiness in “the inner world of things,” to use Atta Kim’s phrase. Kim, born in South Korea in 1956, is most attuned to the spirit of the Diamond Sutra, where the Buddha pulls back from every effort to grasp onto any kind of form. Kim tells me that he has absorbed Zen Buddhism (as well as Taoism and Confucianism) the way a child drinks water. I learn that Koreans recite the Heart Sutra as “color is emptiness; empti- ness is color,” an observation that sparks a long discussion. It seems that “form” and “color” are essentially the same word in Korean. Kim’s photographs engage formlessness through color. His degree in mechanical engineering helps give him precise con- trol over his cameras. Multiple exposures of city streets—or people, or objects—are digitally layered, one atop the other, so they blend into a single moment of ephemerality and passage. For a Buddhist, the most compelling might be the 5,844 pages of the Chinese text of the Avatamsaka Sutra. This teaching on the interpenetration and fusion of all phenomenal experiences Wolfgang Laib Rice Meals, 2010 (Installation view) Brass plates, rice, and hazelnut pollen Sean Kelly Gallery, New York Photo by David De Armas