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Buddhadharma : Summer 2014
66 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 4 of the robes has its own black-metal frame, a butter lamp, Chinese money, and Tibetan Bud- dhist scriptures—and underneath each square is beach sand, which provides the interpretive clue. Everything here is on shifting sand. The meditators have disappeared from inside the monk’s robes—maybe they vanished into rigpa, into clear light—and crystals of sand in the cloth fibers suggest they’re long gone. Who or what is leaving? Is Tibetan Buddhism disappearing from the planet? Or were the monks just too good at practicing “Zen emptiness”? Nearby, Nortse presents a set of Chromogenic photos of himself, his torso and head wrapped use what seems to be an assault as an invitation to examine the ways of the thinking mind and know it more deeply, seeing clearly its attachments, deceits, and fears, and the ways it total darkness, a hand strikes a match. The brief flicker of flame reveals the faintest glimpse of a ritual dorje glowing gold in the middle of the film frame. The match goes out, blackness descends, the hand strikes a match, the dorje gleams fleet- ingly and is lost in blackness—again and again this is repeated, always hoping to see, always trying, always just missing. The artist Nortse—who lives in Lhasa, studied art in China, and exhibits around the world—set up a row of six claret-red monk’s robes in a highly charged installation he called Zen Meditation. The title must have amused him, because the iconography is totally Tibetan. Each