Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.
After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.
I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme. firstname.lastname@example.org
20 February 2017
26 December 2016
in Themchen country, Eastern Amdo (Tsonub Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture at present), Tibet on February 17 2012.
He was a member of Bongthak Monastery's Democratic Management Committee, the government established body that runs the monastery.
The report says he died after setting himself ablaze after monks were banned from marking a Monlam prayer ceremony, while other sources reported that he had objected to a rigorous "patriotic education" campaign at his monastery.
He studied at Drepung Monastery in South India in the 1990s. He served as a religious teacher after his return to Bongthak Monastery.
The photo of him came out to the exile side along with the sad news was taken in front of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India, where Buddha is said to have been enlightened under the holy Bodhi tree.
I wonder what was his life like after his return from the 'democratic' country, where teachings of his belief and practice were vibrantly alive, he could receive much blessing, and he could breath air of freedom.
11 December 2016
Eyes Water Fire for Tibet ( Ojos Agua Fuego) for Tibet and for the world@ Museo de la Ciudad Queretaro, Mexico
December 9th 2016 to January 29th 2017
Eyes Water Fire and Drawings from Dharamsala is travelling to Mexico in honour of International Human Right Day and the H.H. Dalai Lama's Nobel Peace Prize anniversary. This exhibition was made possible by the support of Tibet Mexico Queretaro friends and Teleruz of ITN.
All works, mostly mixed media installations, are made between 2012 up to date. Each piece has many layers of memories of many friends, young and old, whom I spent much time together in sorrow, joy, and prayers with candle lights. Therefore, I feel this occasion is to share their lives with other human beings (...maybe with other creatures too) in Mexico. The whole exhibition is meant to be a humble dedication to those who never lose hope and live in dignity, hope, and loving kindness.
6 October 2016
12 September 2016
Snow, glacier, the ocean - elements of water, cold water.
And I drew a figure walking, searching, hoping to reunite. Every bit of drawing and burning felt as if I could reach somewhere deep and connect with these people whom I never met and whose lights of life may have lost.
This evening, a cool night of the autumn after a long summer, I was looking for words for this image, I had some kind of poem in my mind but it was vague. Then Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan poet/writer's poem book 'Tibet's True Heart" came into my mind and I picked it up to start flipping the pages.
I encountered a poem titled "The Other Side" and started reading it.
My heart trembled when I came to lines:
"When you poke through/That sheet of thin, thin paper/And your eyes (soon to close)/ Peer beyond it/
Taking in the scenery/On the other side/
It is her poem which she composed 26 years ago yet it felt as if this drawing was calling for the very poem of hers. How hearts and feelings travel beyond time and space.
Attached below are the whole version of the poem in English and Chinese, that has been just sent by her with her permission. ( note: "Tibet's True Heart" by Woeser is published by Ragged Banner Press, Translated byA.E.Clark. 2008)
The Other Side Tsering Woeser
When you're near death
There's always an instant
When you poke through
That sheet of then, thin paper
And your eyes ( soon to close)
Peer beyond it,
Taking in the scenery
On the other side.
Then your gaze slowly comes back
In time for your last breath here.
Are all waiting calmly,
Willing to put up with a great deal,
Not like when I was fully alive and kicking
And they tried so hard to hold me back.
Maybe they'd still like to hold me back:
I don't know,
I don't want to know.
Basically, it's just one finger:
If a feeble effort
Can poke through that piece of paper
And find death,
The only thing I fear is that (surprise!) I might not manage to die.
I might leap from the bed
Jabbing them with gusto....
Now that would be interesting.
(March 1990 Kangding)
11 September 2016
9 August 2016
It is said the three nuns protested peacefully in Kardze County in 2008 raising slogans such as "Tibetans want human rights" and throwing leaflets that bore slogans calling for long life for Gyalwa Rinpoche (H.H. 14th the Dalai Lama) and freedom in Tibet.
After enquiring about her for a long time, her family members were forced to conclude that she had succumbed to torture during police custody. The news of the conclusion came out on the exile side
on June 30 2016, more than 8 years after her disappearance. The photo of her came along with the news.
Her face with kind but strong willed eyes and a shy smile struck me and stayed in my heart.
I printed the photo out and let her gaze at me for a long time. I could not imagine how she and many other people could possibly gather all the strength to carry out a protest, for which they must have known brutal violence and torture would await for them.
The portrait that I finally have drawn does not capture the pure-heartedness and strong will that I had felt from her in the photo. I still post it here to express my deepest admiration for her courage, sorrows for the pain that she experiences, and to remember her life and will.
With wishes that the day will come when there is no torture and violence on the earth
11 July 2016
His protest occurred on the eve of China's presumed next leader Xi Jinping's visit to Washington D.C.
to meet President Obama. He set fire to himself early afternoon at the top of the main street of Ngaba county town, while shouting slogans of pretest against the Chinese government.
Kirti monks in exile and other Tibetan sources said that armed police and special forces were seen violently beating him as they extinguished the flames.
Two Tibetans who sought to help Lobsang were also severely beaten by police, with one being led away.
After his passing in the following 4 years, many other monks, nuns, lay people have carried out this painful protest, which they take all pain within their bodies instead of harming their enemy.
Ngaba has the most toll of 41 self immolations since 2009, many by the monks from Kirti monastery. Some also carry out a solo protest - each walks alone, holding up their precious teacher's photo in their hand and raising slogans - even though they all know the painful abuse would await for them.
Their spirit and sense of dignity never die.