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yab yum
A new collaborative installation by Tim Johnson (Australia, born 1947) and My Le Thi (Vietnam/Australia, born 1964), will be on view in the Contemporary Projects Gallery at the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the exhibition Buddha.

The exhibition is titled after the Tibetan Buddhist term yab yum, meaning father-mother union - symbolising the uniting of wisdom and compassion. Having both wisdom and compassion are keys to enlightenment, as embodied by the Buddha Shakyamuni, enabling a role as intermediary between nirvana and this world. There is a strong element of compassion in the artists� work expressed through their interest in cultural collaboration and understanding.

Elements of include a large multi-panelled painting to which Karma Phuntsok, Daniel Bogunovic and Edward Johnson have contributed, incorporating images of the Buddha Shakyamuni meditating. The installation also includes life size meditating figures cast from life. The human body and elements, such as hair, feet, bones and clothing, have been important references in Thi�s work, which she sees as transcending cultural differences, representing loss or displacement, or compassion for another�s situation.

A sound component interweaves Thi�s singing with Buddhist chants and prayers, creating an aural environment that is both ambient and mystical. yab yum draws on the artists� and collaborators� various cultural experiences, including Johnson�s study of Tibetan Buddhism and work with Aboriginal artists in Papunya in the 1980s, and Thi�s memories of her birthplace in the Highlands in Central Vietnam.

The artists have said: �It would be great if Australian art could be seen within the context of Aboriginal, Asian, European and American traditions and still have its own identity. Since this is probably impossible, one has to work in a symbolic space, perhaps like the Buddhist Pure Land, or the mandala itself, to create an illusory reality or a virtual reality in which the space that the artwork occupies is revealed to the audience that can read enough signs to begin to unravel its meaning�.
On view:Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road
The Domain, Sydney 2000
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information
(02) 9225 1790
Hours:10am to 5pm 7 days a week
(closed Christmas Day & Easter Friday)
Admission:Free of Charge
Media Information and Interviews:Jan Batten
Press Office
telephone 61 2 9233 1213