"Tulkus 1880 to 2018", Paola Pivi

After Castello di Rivoli in Turin (Italy) and Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (Holland), FRAC Bourgogne hosts in Dijon at Les Bains du Nord in partnership with Le Consortium and musée Nicéphore Niépce, from June 15 to October 19, 2014, Paola Pivi’s exhibition entitled Tulkus 1880 to 2018, only French date scheduled today of this international project.

This project is a historical, religious and sociological ongoing research, which is first and foremost a work of art conceived as an open archive with over 1,100 photographic portraits of tulkus (reincarnations of Tibetan lamas officially recognized).
These photographic portraits date from the oldest to the introduction of photography in the Himalayan regions (the photograph the oldest found dates of 1873) and through these photographic portraits of the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, it is also an history of photography that is told and presented. Paola Pivi will stop enriching this project / work with photographs in 2018.
Anthropological and cultural dimensions of this artistic project is particularly significant, that is why FRAC Bourgogne, Le Consortium and musée Nicéphore Niépce wanted to join in this project of Paola Pivi to remember that Burgundy is the birthplace of photography and development with the founding figures like Nicéphore Niépce and Etienne-Jules Marey.
With the invention of photography comes the notion of progress and objectivity in the treatment of the question of the representation of reality. But here, these photographs refer to an objective reality and at the same time an immaterial spiritual dimension.
Tulkus 1880 to 2018 brings together in one place a collection of photographic portraits of tulkus.
A tulku is a religious figure recognized as the official reincarnation of a disappeared Buddhist master or lama.
This project in constant evolution, is to conduct a comprehensive study of the most, if not all, of tulkus belonging to different Buddhist and Bonpo schools in all regions of the world where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced.
Such as comprehensive photographic study of this kind has never been achieved so far and never a comprehensive review of all tulkus in the world has been completed previously in History.

Exhibited portraits are exactly of the same type as those found frequently in Tibetan culture and which are visible in the monasteries, houses and shops nearby monasteries : portraits of tulkus seated on a throne in a monastic setting or face portraits.
These photographs have a spiritual value and are sacred to Buddhists. It is believed that the photograph of a tulku has the same power as the tulku himself.
The Tulkus are collectively revered for maintaining oral transmission lines of all the Buddha's teachings, which have been passed down through many generations.
Most often, they are considered Rinpoche or "precious". These religious figures exercised political power in the theocratic Tibet before 1959, and today it is not unsual that they retain power over the people that goes beyond the spiritual authority.

A large team of researchers searched photographs and information in many countries, from the university archives of international capitals to small remote monasteries and from houses of "believers" to the studios of famous photographers.

The famous historian Tashi Tsering, Director of Amnye Machen Institute, Tibetan Centre for Advanced Studies, Dharamshala, India, oversaw all of this research.
The project presents photographs by Daniel Kuma Bärlocher, Das Brothers, Sue Byrne, Alexandra David-Néel, Don Farber, Virginia Farnsworth, James Giabrone, Jesse Goode, Marion Griebenow, Thomas L. Kelly, Kinsey Bros, Vijay Kranti, Tracy Howard, Mr. M. Linden, Heather Lindquist, Marvin Moore, Melina Mulas, Tashi Nangchen, Sarah Orbanic, Tashi Paljor, Tenzing Paljor, Matthew Pistono, Claire Pullinger, Raghu Rai, Matthieu Ricard, Joseph Francis Charles Rock, Tim Roodenrys, Ritu Sarin et Tenzing Sonam, David Sassoon, Sandra Scales, Jurek Schreiner, Albert Shelton, Tseten Tashi, Michelle Thuy Do, Gursed Tserenpil, David Tucker, Neal Watkins, John Claude White, David Zimmerman and many others.

This research is still ongoing, it is in fact incomplete. This work is a museum project without commercial character.

Captions’ photographs contain for each tulku in the following order:
- The name and number of reincarnation, his own name, his dates of birth and death if necessary and its monastery belonging;
- The Buddhist schools (Gelug, Kagyu, Bon, Sakya, Nyingma), the photographer's name, the origin of the image.

With sincere thanks to the hundreds of people and institutions who have made this project possible, and special thanks to the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Special thanks go to all the sponsors who have supported this project from its inception onwards: Artissima, Turin; Massimo De Carlo, Milan, London, Galerie Perrotin, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, AMMODO, Rotterdam, Photographic Laboratory Grieger, Düsseldorf, FarEastFarWest Collection and generous contributions of anonymous donors.
The project is co-commisioned by Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Arthub Asia.

Vue de l'exposition "Tulkus 1880 to 2018" de Paola Pivi
aux Bains du Nord à Dijon du 15 juin au 19 octobre 2014
FRAC Bourgogne
photo : Tulkus 1880 to 2018 project
copyright Paola Pivi
copyright Attilio Maranzano

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