This essay considers the significant role that Engaged Buddhism plays in contemporary art of Southeast Asia. It argues that this modern Buddhist intellectual movement, which came about in the 1960s in Southeast Asia as a response to political crisis in the world, merits visibility in positions. I look closely at the works by two artists, Montien Boonma and Ann Hamilton. I argue that their works are artistic embodiments of Vipassana meditation and social sufferings, both issues that Engaged Buddhism engages with. Furthermore, I point out that Boonma's installations and Hamilton's site-specific works create a path where the viewers are invited to walk in and to participate in the space of compassion and mindful healing. Last, this essay is a poetic meditation on the political role that Buddhist walking meditation plays as a silent political resistance to an increasingly tourist world of Southeast Asia. I have chosen with deliberation a poetic style of writing that subverts the traditional academic style of writing and in effect, provides an alternative way of articulation that challenges the hegemonic mode of representations in the academy.
Boreth Ly; Buddhist Walking Meditations and Contemporary Art of Southeast Asia. positions 1 February 2012; 20 (1): 267–285. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-1471934
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