Dharamkot: Place of Prayer

(above, an excerpt from the film “Dharamkot: Place of Prayer”)

A moving image piece in collaboration with Laetitia Stott and Chris Bartholomew.

The idea for this project occurred during the research for my dissertation. In a book called ‘Text on Textile’, the artist Isabella Ducrot discusses the weaving of a piece of fabric: “An opaque silk scarf, perhaps 300 years old, whose origin is a Tibetan monastry…But with the slightest breeze, the rays of the sun or of a candle reveal a completely new dimension of the fabric…As the weaver wove, and the scarf took shape, a prayer rose out of the loom. The textile prayer is the testimony to a conjunction of matter and thought, quite unlike the relationship between words and paper. The fabric grows and at the same time the prayer rises. This is not the meeting of two  separate entities, not like ink on paper which conjoins two separate agents; here there is a unity, an unbreakable alliance between mind and matter as threads crossing each other simultaneously compose the words directed at the divinity”

I was intrigued by this conjunction of ephemeral/material, the encounter between the prayer/fabric/wind. I wanted create a piece of work that conveyed a sense of the moment when the prayer aroses from the fabric and moved into the world. I decided to work with moving image for this piece, to use the camera to reveal this encounter to the viewer’s eye. This choice to work in this medium was also apt in the context of the Buddhist religion. Movement and motion are very important concepts herer; they are routes through which prayers, all that is intangible can be brought to life and activated. This is why Buddhist prayer wheels must always be spun and moved, and in turn, why prayer flags are hung in places where the wind can move through them.

For the sound, I have collaborated with a musician I worked with on the MAP project called Laetitia Stott. She has been working with the Dongchen, the tibetan horn and it seemed ideal to use the instrument for this project. We are also working with the composer Chris Bartholomew from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for this project.