[WITH GALLERY]: Fo Guang Shan: Nan Hua Temple, Bronkhorstspruit

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Venerable Master Hsing Yun, who is the founder of the first Buddhist Temples had aspirations to propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activites, foster talent through education , to benefit society through charitable programmes and purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist pratice.

I observed much of this today at the Temple. The main Shrine was massive and the smell of incense burning could be smelt from outside the Temple. Before you enter the Temple you need to remove your shoes as a sign of respect and preferably ladies should not show their shoulders or the legs also as a sign of respect. This I am well aware of as it is the same in the Indian religion.

THE TEMPLE

Entering the Temple was an experience by itself. Stepping foot inside was like stepping foot into a new world. We were greeted by three Buddha’s: on the left is Western Pureland or Land of Ultimate Bliss is Amitabha Buddha who represents longevity and endless light. By praying to this Buddha by bowing down in front of the statue you pray for infinite compassion, wisdom and aspirations. The Buddha in the middle is the teacher of the Saha World called Sakyamuni Buddha. His teachings bring an abundance of joy and benefit to all human beings. The Buddha on the right is the Pure Lapis Lazuli Paradise in the East called Medicine Buddha. By giving your respects to this Buddha you will gain good health and longevity.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN TOUCH

Our tour guide took us through the Temple and showed us the different aspects of the place. It was uplifting and quite similar to the Hindu religion. It was also comforting to know that the Temple was built in such a way that some parts of the architecture represented South Africa. For example the straw roof, Buddhist Temples do not have straw inside but this Temple did as a tribute to the African culture and make it unique from the other Temples because it in South Africa.

THE THEORY OF CONSUMING FOOD

After the Temple tour we had Chinese lunch with the rest of the people at the Temple. It is all vegetarian and you are required to eat in silence. This is because eating is not seen as an indulgent thing in the Buddhist religion, it is a necessity. You need because it is seen as medicine for your body, you eat to stay alive and not out of greed. The monks, students and guides at the Temple eat bearing in mind that it is a quite place to appreciate the food and the preparation that went into making the food and after you have eaten you leave quietly by saying thank you.

The Temple has a coffee shop, curio shop and museum for guests to come and view. It was a new experience and something I would definitely do again.  This is exactly why I fall in love with what I do on a daily basis, I would have never went to the Temple otherwise.

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[VIDEO + GALLERY]: Zuma in Cyrildene

On Friday last week we went to Cyrildene for a meeting and for the opening of the Chinese arch. To my surprise the President Jacob Zuma attended the event. It was a grand affair and my first time seeing Zuma in the flesh. I took some pictures  to document my day. Here is a gallery of some photo’s i took at the opening.

‘Art in Motion’ fascinates audiences

AN ALTERNATIVE way of viewing modern art is right on your doorstep after the Wits Art Museum launched their WAM After Hours event earlier this week.

The launch took place at WAM in Braamfontein and featured technological art called “Art in Motion”. Many art enthusiasts attended the event and were required to do a walk through the museum before arriving at the common area where drinks, live entertainment and doodling stations were set up.

The first piece by Nathaniel Stern about the distortion of communication. Photo: Ray Mahlaka

The first piece by Nathaniel Stern about the distortion of communication. Photo: Ray Mahlaka

Laura de Harde, one of the tour guides, led people into the museum for their three stop tour. The first exhibition was held on the lower level of the museum and it showcased still art. The art on display was entered into the 2013 Martienssen Prize exhibition with Antonia Brown’s “I will tell him when he comes back” piece which won the award.

Brown’s ancient audio recording device demonstrated how language can be lost by showing that once a voice of a person travels over the magnet on the recorder, it is lost forever.

Other artists whose pieces were on display included Anathi Bukani and Madeleine Dymond.

The next exhibition was held on the second floor of the museum which was called by the guide as “ground zero” of the art museum. Here people were able to get involved with the art as it was technological art. Projector screens with sensors at the bottom caught images of people who walked past and subsequently displayed different images on the screen.

The first piece used sound and image to portray art. When a person walked past the screen an outline of the person appeared and surrounding images and words appeared around the outline in a confusing and distorting manner.

“Experience text with your body.”

The piece was to demonstrate how image and sound can distort communication. The artist Nathaniel Stern seemed to be expressing a sort of frustration he had with communication.

The art pieces by Stern make audiences encounter complex relationships between bodies and language. His artworks forces people to grab text with their bodies, draw letters with our heads and listen with their bodies.

A piece by Tegan Bristow involved talking through a microphone and looking at your face on the screen which was replaced with Jacob Zuma’s face. Other pieces captured a person’s energy by representing colourful or dull flowers depending on the energy received by the sensor.

Tegan Bristow's microphone art piece. Photo: Ray Mahlaka

Tegan Bristow’s microphone art piece. Photo: Ray Mahlaka

Bristow’s pieces invite playfulness between images and interactive engagement with the art. People are able to relate with each other within the frame of the artworks.

The last stop of the exhibition was on the third level of the museum. Here people were meant to understand the meaning of words and letters. Another piece by Stern required someone to stand in front of the screen and catch the words flying around them.

Once you caught a word a speaker blurts out a non-conformist definition of the word.
According to Mpho Qhomane a ‘WAMbassador’, this is a “saturated” experience where words make one think deeper about text; Stern wants you to “experience text with your body.”

Bristow and Stern’s artwork asks us about the consequences of our movement and how these physical interactions change relationships we have with others.

The purpose of Art in Motion is to show how our actions reflect meaning.

People were intrigued and fascinated by motion art and the attendance was high in the ranks. People experienced as much as they could with the art standings around the museum.

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The art of afroculture

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

A stage performance called Afrocartography: Traces of places and all points in between launched at the Wits Theatre on Friday July 19, as part of its 30th birthday celebrations. Produced in conjunction with the Wits Repertory Company, the piece is billed as an explorative and truly African performance piece.[pullquote align=”right”]“Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,”[/pullquote]

The main character is Traveller, who takes the audience on a mystical journey of self-discovery. The play takes its audience through a walking route around the Wits Theatre. “It serves as a walking metaphor to capture the essence of travelling, identity, location” as an African person, said co-director Khayelihle Dom Gumede.

Afrocartography carries overriding themes of migration in Africa. The experiences of black people who were faced with dislocation and its emotional consequences are depicted in the stage performance. The play incorporates issues faced by African people through the decades on this continent.

Phumzile Sitole, a graduate from UCT plays the role of Traveller and Tshego Khutsoane, a Wits graduate, plays the map maker who directs The Traveller in her journeys.

The performance is written by Mwenya B Kabwe. She co-directed the play with Gumede, who won the Emerging Theatres Directors’ bursary from the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts. Liya Gonga choreographed the performance.

Kabwe is a well-travelled, Zambian-born writer who has studied at many institutions in the UK and South Africa, including UCT. Gumede said the play was based on Kabwe’s journey in different parts of the world and it was her experiences that led her to “redirect her identity and her journey as a ‘politan’ of various kinds”.

The performance has been described as “Afropolitan” and as an alternative way of being in the world.

The play was first shown in Barcelona in 2009 and again in Cape Town, said Gumede. However, this was the first time it was having a full run. The play took seven weeks to produce, from rehearsal to performance night, said Gumede.

Audiences can expect a mixture of mystery, curiosity, humour and a suitcase of emotion. “Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,” said Gumede.

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Kentridge gives art lessons in Braamfontein

William Kentridge gave the first six lectures at Harvard University. Photo: Provided

William Kentridge gave the first six lectures at Harvard University. Photo: Provided

THE MOVEMENT from artistic imagery to the spoken word is the reason for the significant interest in the William Kentridge lecture series currently being held the Wits theatre in Braamfontein.

Internationally acclaimed South African artist Kentridge has been hosting a lecture series since 20 June. Tickets have been sold out every night and some famous faces were even spotted in the audience.

The lecture series entitled “The Five drawing Lessons by William Kentridge” draws from philosophical epistemology, knowledge and art practice.

One would not think that art would create interest in the mainstream public however from the very first evening, was packed to capacity with people keen listen to one of SA’s most prolific and celebrated artists.

Internationally acclaimed Kentridge caught captured in the moment producing some of his most renowned work. Photo: Provided

Internationally acclaimed Kentridge caught captured in the moment producing some of his most renowned work. Photo: Provided

Gillespie added that Kentridge conducts activities in his lectures. He uses visuals and sound to break from the monotony of a lecture in order to immerse the audience in the heavy content spoken addressed in the lectures.

Gillespie said the lecture series was initially presented at Harvard University in 2012. She said that sometimes local artists tend to showcase their work abroad more often than they do locally. Kentridge is doing these lectures for the local public for free.

Kentridge is also a Wits alumnus. He obtained a BA degree from the university where he majored in Politics and African Studies.

Kentridge with one of his artworks. Kentridge visited Wits University to give a lecture series on art. Photo: Provided

Kentridge with one of his artworks. Kentridge visited Wits University to give a lecture series on art. Photo: Provided

His work is very content-dependent which draws on his South African upbringing during the years of apartheid. Kentridge is best known for his print work and animated films.

The “Five drawing lessons by William Kentridge” is part of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism session on “The Life of Forms.”

The lecture series started on June 20 and will come to a close on 2 July. Bookings are essential at www.jwtc.org.za.