The moment of death is significant as a transient period, a passing over. Bardo is a Tibetan word literally meaning “intermediate state” or “in-between state”. It refers to the forty-nine day period after death and is described as the time, space or region that a spirit traverses between the moment of bodily death and spiritual settling. This period of bardo state is believed to be a time of vulnerability (Fremantle 2001: 25).
In my new body of work titled TRANSIenT the subject of transcendence is explored from a personal perspective.
Here the aeroplane journey acts as a metaphor for other forms of departure and arrival. Flying becomes symbolic of a transitional state and a period of unpredictability. Original aviation life vests and life rafts make reference to life support, yet are deconstructed and thus suggest the vulnerability of a body in crisis. If flying is a metaphor for the period known as limbo or of being between worlds/destinations, then the reference to safety suggests the vulnerability of bodies in this state. As it turns out, life raft material is unusually similar to skin. Reference is made to the Renaissance depiction of flayed victims. In this body of work I am preoccupied with the mutability of the human form and its ability to encompass different states: the spiritual and the physical. Resembling an exposed shell or an anatomical model, the interior of the figures are hollow, and a network of lines reveal the veins and arteries of a petrified circulation system.
Through this body of work the bardo period of transitional time is suggested through the use of objects suspended in space. What exists in this space between things? We perceive this space as empty distance. The physical distance, however, that defines separation also creates an inherent relationship. The multiplicity of voids that subdivide and separate also serve to connect one world with another. Relationships are built upon varying levels of separation, which allow things to become interlinked. If we adjust our perception to sense the actual physicality of space, the borders of solid objects will begin to define emptiness as substantial and the boundaries between objects and emptiness will begin to dissolve. In this site the positive and negative are considered as both void (emptiness) and space (presence) that defines the separation from one realm to another. (Dupre 1976: 20)
The ‘tunnel of light’ scenario and the vortex are explored as portals between the known and the unknown. Consisting of 159 intricately cut SAA boarding passes, Shatter is an abstract pattern that is derived from an image of cracks racing across a sheet of tempered glass shown the instant it is struck by a blunt metal plunger. This piece makes reference to the Helderberg plane crash of 1987 in which 159 people lost their lives. Shatter is also a contemplation on the parallels within macrocosms and microcosms. Resembling an eye or a mandala it represents the cosmos, the big bang, a vortex or a tunnel of light associated with a near death experience.
Made entirely of paper waste or life raft rubber these new works are fragile and susceptible to deterioration, and suggest a state of vulnerability and impermanence.
This work seeks to nurture an awareness of fragility of life and to build an awareness of transience, suggesting that life and death are transitory states and that there is no permanence in either. We are constantly changing, transforming, metamorphosising and transcending. By refining even further the understanding of the essence of the notion of bardo, it can then be applied to every moment of existence. The present moment, the now, is a continual bardo, always suspended between the past and the future.
Dupre, L. 1976. Transcendent Selfhood. New York: Seabury Press.
Fremantle, F. 2001. Luminous Emptiness A guide to the “Tibetan Book of the Dead”. Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc.