Johanna Williams is German, living in Beijing and traveled to Tibet on a pilgrimage with white fabric to the region of Burang, near Mount Kallash. Johanna made a book with Photography by Wike.
On the rebound from trip to Mongolia, Chicago artist Lee tracy stops in at my place in Beijing….
She is showing me photographs of white fabric immersed in river and later laid out to dry on the banks. . . she is telling me of birds circling above…of bugs biting little holes into the fabric… of horses stopping by… of winds… the stars… the solitude… and of the whole universe trying to take part…
I am deeply touched by her words and moved by the trust she has in elements to complete her project (100 Tears, Red Tree, etc)
A year later Lee tracy invites me to participate in the World Rivers Project: “… it is my hope that you can do a river in Beijing… I would love to have you, your spirit and energy, included… ”
The same day I run out to purchase a long remnant of beautiful white painting silk… but
then I start stalling… the Beijing rivers seem so very uninspiring… they do not speak to me or is it just that I cannot hear their story?
Another note from Lee Tracy arrives… I finally commit “to do a river” (… after the ice melts and before it freezes again…)
The ice did eventually melt… but not my resistance… suddenly a long planned journey to Tibet starts to materialize… (Thank you Wike! Thank you ELW!)… my spirits feel renewed…my energy returns… I recommit…
This silk will be dipped into Lake Manasarovar(…”shaped like the sun”…”created from divine breath”…”shimmering like lapis lazuli”…)
The lake’s overflowing waters, it is said, unite to form the River Ganges…
My storyline develops while I prepare myself for spiritual journey to holy Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.
May 2006 – I still want to ask Mohan to perform sun salutations on this silk…
June/July 2006 – get ready…
August 2006 – take fabric to Tibet
immerse into Lake Manasarovar
document with photographs(Wike)
let fabric dry on“five colored jewel sand” on banks
tear strips off the fabric to make “katags”(offering scarves)
tie “katags” to important sites throughout the Mount Kailash
Mandala and Kora…
September 2006 – after returning to Beijing, divide remaining fabric into 3 equal parts
Send part I to Lee Tracy’s studio in Chicago (include photo report and legend)
give part II to Mohan(add gifts from pilgrimage)
keep part III (use as painting silk)
Completing The Circle: donate artwork resulting from part III, or its proceeds, to a nonprofit organization or charity. Thanks!
Lee, for teaching me to go deeper
Wike, for moving this journey from possibility to reality
ELW, for believing in me!
Yogi Mohan, for being an inspiration…
Entering The Circle
- Invite Yogi Mohan to perform Sun Salutations on the silk
- Take fabric to Tibet
- Tear strips off to make “katags”(offering scarves)
- Tie “katags” to important sites throughout the Mount Kailash “Kora”(circular pilgrims path around a sacred place)
- Immerse fabric into holy Lake Manasarovar
- Let fabric dry on “five colored jewel sand” on banks of lake
Completing The Circle:
- After returning to Beijing, divide silk into three equal parts:
- Send part I to Lee Tracy’s studio in Chicago (include photo report and legend)
- Give part II to Yogi Mohan (add gifts from pilgrimage)
- Keep part III (use as painting silk)
- Donate artwork resulting from part III, or its proceeds, to a nonprofit organization or charity
(When Mohan returned the fabric to me, he said in his charming Indian way…”you could not know… it is such a sacred place for us…nothing we offer to Lord Shiva (Hindu God residing on Mount Kailash) can be touched by the foot…Idid some different variation”… he smiles, looks at his hands, and touches his arms…and I can only imagine those most incredible hand- head and arm- balances he must have performed over the entire 21 meters of silk…)
“Since time immemorial
people of the East have believed
that somewhere in the Himalayas,
between China and India,
stood a sacred mountain:
the navel of the earth,
The axis of the universe.
From its summit,
around which the sun and the moon revolve,
flowed a mighty river,
which fell into a lake
from which stemmed the great rivers of Asia.
this was the holiest of mountains,
revered by Hindus, Buddhist, Jains, and Bon as the home of their gods.
in metaphysical terms it was Meru or Tise,
in the earthly manifestation it was Kailash, the crystal, or Kang Rinpoche, the jewel of the snows.”
“where are you going?” asks Titsang.
“on a pilgrimage” replies Fayen.
“what is the reason for your pilgrimage?” Titsang wants to know:
“I do not know it” replies Fayen.
“To not know comes closest to it’ says Titsang.
(Dialog from Zen Buddhism)Reflections:
I step into the water. It is ice cold… a fierce wind takes hold of the soft and shiny silk and for a moment of breathtaking beauty it is suspended between the sky and the water… sparkling and glistening in the sun… touching the water it goes limp… no golden fish jumps out… no trumpets sounds…and Mount Kailash in the distance is hiding in huge clouds…
Lights dance over the surface of water…
flicker over the silk on the banks…
I gather up the fabric that now holds the essence of holy Lake Manasarovar and tiny little crystals of “five-colored jewel sand.”
Touching my hand to my heart I bow to the waters… the clouds… the winds… and no that mountain in the distance around which the sun and the moon revolve.
Dear Yogi Mohan:
Please consider doing your most beautiful Sun Salutations all over the length of this silk…
In August, I will carry this fabric to Tibet with me through the Himalayas up to the roof of the world… where the whole earth rises to form a temple and the sky is filled with prayer flags and mantras. There I will float the fabric in Lake Manasarovar as part of a global art project.
Your prayers to the Lord of Sun will merge with the waters…the winds…the clouds…the powerful atmosphere right around sacred Mount Kailash and gently spread from there throughout the world.