The monk and the butterfly

I tore the monks robe into dozens of long orange coloured ribbons.  The sound of one robe being ripped.  I am sure he didn’t mind.  The robe had been abandoned after all, when I found it the other day as I was sheltering from the rain.  The naturally coloured robe which once belonged to a local monk will now go through its own reincarnation and start life again as one of my butterflies. 

The ripping sound of the robe, being transformed into weaving strips, signalled its end as a chrysalis for the monk and its transformation into a butterfly. Without change there can be no growth.

Finding the right material for my sculptural work is alway a challenge and often I am happy to let the material find me.  This also has a a practical aspect, as I am reliant on participants to supply their own material.  The resulting work usually reflects the cultural environment that I am working in.  So finding a monks robe to make a butterfly is perfect.  There is also a strong spiritual connection to butterflies in many cultures.  In Thailand the word for butterfly is ผีเสื้อ /phǐi sɨ̂a/, which translates as ghost shirt. Given the nature of the butterfly as quiet, colourful and often translucent creature that goes through a radical transformation from a grub to a flying creature, it is no wonder that supernatural attributions have been associated with this wonderful being. 

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The art of communication and the communication of art

Art is often able  to communicate on a level that language cannot; the language of music, colour and form.The artists  ideas can be expressed in a way that is deeply personal for both, the artist and the viewer. My art making process is just as important as the outcome.  The making of the art will also dictate the final outcome of the work, which is often different to what I set out to do.  This is not to say that I am not sure what I am doing, it is merely a reflection, an organic approach I take with my art making.  Just like a composer or a writer, each new step in the creation connects  me to the next level towards the final outcome.  

If art is a form of communication, then my current work takes communication as an art form.  This expression of art happens in a multi layered way.  The simple act of communicating my collaborative project to participants opens up a dialogue in art making.  It questions the notion of what art is or can be. This in itself can be experienced as art;  a work that exists as an idea. As I am working with people that often don’t speak english and I have no or little knowledge of their language, communication also happens in a more abstract way.  Hand and facial gestures and small words being translated by someone. The concept of the work then takes on an individual form for each participant;, he/she will interpret my idea in their own way. When this happens in a collaborative work, such as the Thai butterfly project, the communication process has become as much a part of the work as the final expression of the form. 

On another level, there is the conversation that I have with myself about the work.  Each day I take long walks, exploring my new environment. These walks are also part of my art.  As I walk I think, I observe and I process my work.  I am also exposed to the daily rhythm of village life, which connects me strongly to the local people I work with.  

Conversing and traversing is my art!

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This entry was posted in Thailand, travel by Roman W. Schatz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Roman W. Schatz

Roman W. Schatz is a Swiss photographer based in Australia. A frequent traveller, Roman has a particular interest in capturing time and place. Using the visual language of the photographic image, he believes that art is an international language that can be used to communicate the humanity that unites us all.

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