Sandokai: Grasping at Things is Surely Delusion

Solo exhibition at Capture Photography Festival, April 5 - 21, 2016, Back Gallery Project, curated by Manuel Piña

Sandokai is a poem by Zen master Sekito Kisen (Chinese Shitou Xiqian 700-790 CE). A key Zen text, it is chanted daily in temples around Japan and the world. Extravagantly polysemous, it expresses, among other things, the merging of the relative and the absolute, of difference and unity, of reality and perspective.

This photographic exploration of space evokes one of Sandokai's lines: "Grasping at things is surely delusion." Aiming to subvert a ubiquitous premise of the photographic image throughout the history of street photography and into the age of social media —fixing appearances— this work is an attempt to find ways to un-fix iconic depictions and release the perspectives of lived space. Japan, with its multiple, every-day, modes of perception, from technological sophistication to spiritual connectedness to the natural world, was the breeding ground for this experimental, in-situ, reconstructions of public space.

These negotiated conjunctions of time and space also call forth a fundamental premise of Japan’s Shinto. According to this tradition, the Utsushiyo (visible or material world) and Reikai (invisible world of spirits) are part of one another. Events in both realms have a consequence over reality as a whole. There is a locus that brings together the visible, the invisible, and the imagined worlds.