Some of you had asked how the trip to Tibet might influence the art-making while I was there, especially since I was going to such a spiritual place. My response was something along the lines of, "I'm sure it will show up in my work in some way later, but since I will have limited time and resources while I'm there, I'll have to carry out the project as I have it planned."
Well, I was wrong! The place is amazing, but there is a tragic-ness to it at the same time that has found its way into the project. Kailash, like the rest of Tibet, is in the midst of significant change as more and more people travel to the area. I had read of the possible upcoming developments for the Kailash area (modern hotels, roads, etc.), but I wasn’t prepared for how much of the outside world is already flourishing there! Horse and yak drivers run their business around the mountain via cell-phone, an amazing dug-in greenhouse is being built next to one of the guesthouses below Drirapuk Monastery, and newly-built sections of the trail are reminiscent of Roman raised stone roads.
Thankfully as I re-worked the design of what has become known as "The Mani Wheel" before leaving the States, I decided that I would put paper and different mark-making implements inside the cylinder (rocks and pieces of steel) just to see what would happen. After reflecting on the experience and reviewing the video footage, the project has evolved… I realized that the project was less about the trail creating its own self-portrait, and more about recording the prayers of the trail itself, its last wishes before it is completely resurfaced and replaced by road. The marks made inside the tube are this record, and the “Mani Wheel”, when displayed together with the accompanying video and text about the project, will be made available for museum visitors to push it around the exhibition space, sharing the trail’s prayers with the world. A bell has been added to the “Mani Wheel” to alert the deities to the prayers, much like the large prayer wheels we saw in Totapani, Nepal, as we traveled to the Tibetan border.
You can read more about “The Mani Project – A Million Soles Paving the Way."