The Koan - 2017

“Full fathom five thy father lies;
 Of his bones are coral made;
 Those are pearls that were his eyes;
 Nothing of him that doth fade,
 But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange…” - W. Shakespeare, the Tempest.

A Koan is a paradox to be meditated upon; used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment. A reliquary, on the other hand, is a container for the physical remains of saints (bones, clothing) as well as other objects associated with a person.

Artist Raghubir Kintisch’s Proxy installation calls attention to this second, metonymic function of reliquary objects; in this case jewelry and other small things that her now-deceased mother gave her throughout her life.

There is a sculpture made of costume jewelry awkwardly embedded in plaster- a paradoxical action that both preserves the jewels as one complete “package” but also destroys their objective value.

There is a video of the same jewels in motion, set to personally evocative “popular” piano music that her pianist mother used to play, with a narrative voice-over that meditates on the Koan - the sudden explosion in the mind that leads to understanding. In this case, relatively trivial objects are re-processed and designated by the artist to be a rich inheritance and to have a spiritual function, bridging the distance between connection and loss. Moreover, their gallery exhibition now transforms them into art and points to the ways that, perhaps like a reliquary, the daughter contains the mother.

Written by Annetta Kapon for the Proxy Gallery, Culver City, CA. August 1-31, 2017