The Wisdom Blog: Classic & Contemporary Buddhism

Gatön: Tibet takes over New York

by Kestrel Slocombe
July 16, 2014
Wed, 07/16/2014 - 14:45 -- Kestrel Slocombe


Trace Foundation Celebrates Its Twentieth Anniversary

The following copy is courtesy of the Trace Foundation.

Trace Foundation is pleased to announce a series of events, “Gatön,” to take place over the course of 2014 in New York City, featuring contemporary Tibetan art and celebrating its twentieth anniversary of work in Tibetan communities. The anniversary activities will showcase art by living Tibetans on an international stage, an exceptional feat for these artists, many of whom work in isolation in their own homes  or within small nomadic communities:

What does it mean to be Tibetan today? For a culture as diverse and dispersed as any on the planet, this is no easy question. Over the past few decades, Tibetan artists have been exploring their own answers, breaking radical ground. Trace Foundation has been there with them from the beginning—at the forefront of a new art scene, proudly supporting these emerging artists, musicians, and filmmakers with grants and scholarships. Now, we invite you to join us for a glimpse into Tibet through the eyes, instruments, and the hands of artists living through this critical time in history.

  • August 20–August 31, 2014: Lens on Tibet: A thirteen-film exhibition of the most exciting Tibetan films today, presented at and in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art
  • Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM: Tune in Tibet: A lineup of Tibet’s premier musical talents
  • November 6–December 21, 2014: Transcending Tibet: A contemporary Tibetan art exhibition featuring thirty-two new commissioned works

Gatön—a word meaning “celebration” in Tibetan—will provide an estimated 25,000 individuals and families a first opportunity to experience artistic forms from a distinctive culture that is rarely represented in the United States. Trace is making a special effort to promote these activities to low- and moderate-income populations: the exhibition will be free to the public, and the films and the concert will offer tickets at varying price levels, with low-cost options available.

Lens on Tibet: Tibetan film series in collaboration with and at The Museum of Modern Art

Lens on Tibet is a dedicated look at contemporary Tibetan cinema that focuses on films coming out of the Tibetan Plateau. This thirteen-film exhibition of recent feature-length documentaries and dramatic narratives celebrates the emergence of the new Tibetan film culture onto the global stage. The program is the final part of the six-month long series, MoMA Presents: ContemporAsian. This is the first time the films and the filmmakers Trace has supported are being showcased in one program; additionally, many of the film directors are appearing for the first time in North American to discuss their films with the audience.

The film exhibition highlights the North American premiere of the young and upcoming Tibetan director Dukar Tsering’s They are One Hundred Years Old (2014), which in a daring documentary style, examines reincarnation, religious belief, and a love that spans generations. Also featured is Silent Holy Stones, the first dramatic feature by the internationally renowned Pema Tseden.

The film Yartsa Rinpoche: The Precious Caterpillar (2013), directed by the highly regarded and prolific Tibetan documentary filmmaker Dorje Tsering Chenaktsang, follows Darlo, an elder in the Amdo region, and his family as they journey eight hundred kilometers to collect “Tibet’s Golden Worm,” also known as “The Viagra of the Himalayas.” This film will be featured as a weeklong run and will receive its North American Premiere along with Jocelyn Ford’s breakout film on a Tibetan mother and child trying to survive in Beijing Nowhere to Call Home (2014), Dan Smyer Yu’s Embrace (2011), and Khashem Gyal’s The Valley of the Heroes (2013). Tashi Chopel’s The Son of a Herder (2014), which examines the tensions between modernity and tradition in the life of a young Plateau herder in eastern Tibet’s remote Zehok region, is a World Premiere.

The series will kick off on August 20 with a roundtable discussion with participating directors followed by an opening reception at Trace Foundation. In addition, ten of the screenings will be followed by conversations with the directors. Screening times, further film titles, and MoMA’s full press release are available upon request and at

MoMA Presents: ContemporAsian is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film. Lens on Tibet is organized by Sally Berger, and Paola Vanzo, Director of Communications and Development, and Kristina Dy-Liacco, Librarian, Trace Foundation. All screenings take place at MoMA: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019.

Sunday, October 19, 2014 , 7 PM
Tune in Tibet: Concert at The Town Hall

Opportunities to hear Tibetan music, performed by Tibetan musicians outside the Himalayas, are rare. The past four decades have seen the revival of traditional genres, the evolution of older styles, and the generation of new unique Tibetan genres. The concert will feature pop singers from inside and outside the Tibetan Plateau, including Phurbu T. Namgyal, a phenomenally popular Tibetan musician now based in Minnesota and known for his love songs. Namgyal has composed more than a hundred songs for eleven musical albums, and for other singers in Tibetan areas, India, America, and Bhutan.

The concert will also feature the classical performance of a Gesar bard. Hailing from a centuries- old oral tradition, the bard will recite epic tales of King Gesar, a hero of legend, and his battles to protect and unify his people.

The concert will take place at The Town Hall, the historic 1500-seat venue in Midtown Manhattan: 123 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036. Related programming, including public talks with the artists, will take place at Columbia University in partnership with the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. For more information, visit

November 6–December 21, 2014
Transcending Tibet: Contemporary Art Exhibition featuring Thirty-Two Commissioned Artworks

Once limited to religious thangkas and landscapes meant for tourists, Tibetan visual art has in just ten years transformed into a flourishing international movement. The first of its kind in the West, Transcending Tibet will feature new commissioned artworks by twenty-eight contemporary Tibetan artists, alongside four Western artists whose work incorporates Tibetan themes. The exhibition will provide a rare opportunity for wide audiences to experience the new artistic forms emerging from the Tibetan Plateau. The exhibition will be on view for seven weeks and will be accompanied by a full-color catalog.

The participating artists represent a wide array of points in their careers, from emerging to established. Though most of these artists share a Tibetan heritage, their diverse upbringings have resulted in artworks that appropriate iconography from historic Tibetan art as well as from other cultures throughout the world. One artist, Gade, is known for inserting icons such as Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald, and Spiderman where the Buddha once was in pieces that otherwise embrace the tone and feel of traditional Tibetan art. Other artists are using Western materials to address religious and social issues in Tibet, such as Kesang Lamdark, who often uses spray paint, soda cans, melted plastic, tequila bottles, and disco music in his work. Artists Gonkar Gyatso and Tenzing Rigdol have recently been featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an opening reception and a number of talks with the artists. Further details are available at

Dhondup, Tseren Dolma, Rima Fujita, Losang Gyatso, Tülku Jamyang, Livia Liverani, Michela Martello, Tashi Norbu (Lhasa), Tashi Norbu (Netherlands), Tenzin Norbu, Nortse, Tsering Nyandak, Tenzin Pakmo, Pempa, Tashi Phuntsok, Ga Qin, Tsherin Sherpa, TseKal, Phuntsok Tsering, Mirella Virgili, and Rabkar Wangchuk.

The exhibition will take place at Trace Foundation, 132 Perry Street, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10014.

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