At the Museum of Anthropology on Saturday, August 21st, at 11:00 am, there will be a public procession, or utsava, of a bronze Vishnu figure from MOA’s South Asia collection. It will be led by local Hindu priest Prabakar Visvanath, one of the twelve artists featured in the current exhibition Border Zones: New Art across Cultures.
Please join us in this collaborative event in which the museum “artifact” is reintegrated into ritual practice and reconnected with the living community.
For Border Zones, Mr. Visvanath participated with museum staff in a project that confronts the boundaries between the sacred and the secular, performance art and the performance of sacred text, and contemporary art and cultural practice. He conducted an abishekam ritual with the historical bronze, during which the figure—which had been in an inert state for a long time—was once again ritually bathed and dressed. Pouring a series of liquids over the figure meant suspending some central rules of conservation, and helps us to think about what it means to preserve the “life” of an object in addition to its physical form.
The bronze Vishnu figure was originally made to be a processional image, fitted with lugs and rings so that it can be periodically
taken out among the people. Like the abishekam, this is another aspect of the puja, or ritual act, by which the deity is invoked and honoured. On August 21st the priest will again prepare the image, and it will be set on a decorated ratha, or chariot, to be wheeled around the museum. There will be music, bells, flowers, and special foods to mark the celebration.
Free with museum admission. Everyone is invited!