Rohini Devasher, 300 Kilometers or the Apparent Path of the Sun, 2020, two channel video, courtesy of the artist and Project 88, image courtesy of Project 88

Exhibition series features contemporary artists who reinterpret traditional and religious iconography alongside the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

On November 12, 2021, the Rubin Museum of Art will present Shrine Room Projects: Rohini Devasher/Palden Weinreb, two contemporary art installations in dialogue with the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room. Located on the fourth floor, Shrine Room Projects is a rotating exhibition series that features contemporary artists who reinterpret traditional and religious iconography, providing an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the themes and symbols emanating from the Shrine Room. In this iteration, Rohini Devasher presents a new two-channel video and Palden Weinreb presents two mixed-media artworks that invite contemplation on the boundaries of human perception and our place in this earthly realm. Shrine Room Projects: Rohini Devasher/Palden Weinreb is on view November 12, 2021, through October 30, 2023.

Inspired by an affluent Tibetan household shrine, the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room features sacred objects, flickering butter lamps, the scent of incense, and the sounds of chanting. It conveys the feeling of a space used for offering, devotion, prayer, and contemplation, and invites reflection on the nature of existence.

Trained as a painter and printmaker, and working in a variety of media, Rohini Devasher focuses her current work on twin aspects of the earth’s skies: celestial constants and the mutable objects of the atmosphere. For Shrine Room Projects, Devasher presents a new two channel video, 300 Km or the Apparent Path of the Sun (2020), filmed at one of the longest operating solar observatories in India. The video shows the trajectory of the sun across the metal plate of the partially disabled Spectroheliograph, a device used to photograph the surface of the sun. The resulting image appears to show the sun orbiting the earth instead of the earth moving around the sun, over the course of ten minutes. In this mesmerizing video, which includes subtitles of a meditation on the sun by amateur astronomer Raj Shekar, Devasher dives into the philosophical dimension of the relativity of human perception and inspires the viewer to think about time, space, and movement in new ways.

The Shrine Room features seven stemmed bowls with auspicious symbols that function as receptacles to receive offerings, which is an integral part of Buddhist practices. Offering bowls are usually arranged in a straight line, but in Palden Weinreb’s Offerings (2014), the artist invites us to experience the receptacles in a new way. Weinreb’s circular arrangement, use of semi translucent wax, and juxtaposition of light and dark, encourages the viewer to look beyond the surface and reflect on the act of offering and what might be offered. Is it our presence in front of the bowls radiating light that makes the circle of offering complete? Are we the offering?

Palden Weinreb, Offerings, 2014, Wax, LED lights, wood, courtesy of the artist, Image courtesy of Palden Weinreb

Palden Weinreb often works with shapes and motifs inspired by Buddhism, which he translates into abstracted forms. Similarly, in Untitled (Stupa) (2013) Weinreb presents a luminous, encaustic wax stupa, which radiates light from its core. A stupa, a commemorative religious structure derived from pre-Buddhist burial mounds, has taken many forms throughout Asia, from simple structures to elaborate, monumental architecture. Many stupas enshrine relics of sacred persons. Here, Weinreb’s use of light is a reminder that the true power comes from within the sculpture, something that perhaps cannot be seen with our eyes.

Shrine Room Projects: Rohini Devasher/Palden Weinreb is curated by Jorrit Britschgi with curatorial assistant Anna Cahn.

About Rohini Devasher
Rohini Devasher (b. 1978, New Delhi, India) has trained as a painter and printmaker and works in a variety of media, including video, prints, and site-specific drawings. Devasher’s work has been shown at the 14th Sharjah Biennial Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019), Kaserne Basel (2019), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) (2018), 7th Moscow Biennial (2017), Spencer Museum of Art, United States (2016, 2018), MAAT Museum of Art and Technology, Lisbon (2016), ZKM, Karsruhe (2016), Bhau Daji Lad City Museum, Mumbai (2016, 2018), Singapore Art and Science Museum (2016), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2016), 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2014), and 1st Kochi Biennale (2012), among others. Recent projects include The Observatory, a performative essay in collaboration with Legion Seven performed at Kaserne Basel (October 2020), as well asConjunctions and Observing Observation (October 2019) as part of the 5 Million Incidents Project (2019–2020), which was initiated by the Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi and Kolkata, and conceptualized in collaboration with Raqs Media Collective. Devasher has been an artist in residence at the Spencer Museum of Art (2016), Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2014), Glasgow Print Studio (2014), Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (2012), and the Anthropocene Campus II at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2016). She is currently the Embedded Artist in Residence at the Open Data institute (ODI).

About Palden Weireb
Palden Weinreb (b. 1982, New York, NY) is a native New Yorker and a Tibetan American who concentrates on drawing, painting, lithography, and new media. His practice follows his search for elusive transcendental phenomena surrounding modern life, which approaches a conceptual or spiritual existence, including the afterlife. Borrowing from Tibetan Buddhism, New Age theory, utopian modernism, and science, the artist mines overlapping and collective ideas and forms that materialize in his work. Weinreb’s work has been exhibited at Rossi & Rossi, London, UK; Asia Society Museum, New York, NY; Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, TX; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Queens Museum, Queens, NY, and BRIC, Brooklyn, NY.

The Shrine Room is supported by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, Namita and Arun Saraf, and by generous donations from the Museum’s Board of Trustees, individual donors, and members.

The Rubin Museum explores and celebrates the diversity of Himalayan art, ideas, and culture across history and into the present. With its globally renowned collection, the Rubin fosters understanding and appreciation of this extraordinary region by connecting its art and ideas to contemporary issues that are relevant in our visitors’ lives today. Largely inspired by the philosophical traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, the Rubin offers innovative exhibitions and programs that examine provocative ideas across the arts and sciences. In doing so, the Museum serves as a space for reflection and personal transformation, opening windows to inner worlds so visitors can better navigate outer ones.

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