January 06, 2011

Phonebook Buddhas: The Art of Long-Bin Chen

Long-Bin Chen, via the New York Optimist,

In my artwork I use printed matter - discarded books, magazines, computer printouts etc. - the cultural debris of our information society.  My art form explores different cultural meanings and seeks to combine ideas and concepts from the East with those from the West. I always use text in my work and the contents of the texts are relevant to my sculptures. My finished sculptures often seem to be of wood or marble though they consist mainly of paper. They are constructed in such a way that the various part fit together in a seamless manner. In this work I express what I consider the cultural conflict and problem with communication in the world.
Since colonial times, Westerners have taken Buddha heads from the Buddha statues in Asia and brought the Buddha heads back to the West. Today, while one finds so many Buddha heads in Western museums and galleries, equally many Buddha bodies in Asia are headless. The Buddha head is an important cultural image from Asia. Yet, by and large, it is misunderstood in Western societies. In this project, I chose the most beautiful Buddha head I found at a museum to use as a model and created this Buddha head from New York City telephone books. The Buddha Head contains the names and numbers of millions of New York residents. The Head will represent a caring Buddha, a Buddha from the East who has come to take care of the West.

Guan Ying with Flower (Image via The Frederieke Taylor Gallery)

Buddha heads (Image via pbase.com)

Tang Dynasty Buddha with Flowers (Image via The Frederieke Taylor Gallery)

Key image at top via odditycentral.com

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folinsky's picture

These are fantastic.