The Rubin is transforming. Read important updates from our Executive Director.

Force of Stillness

Film and Performance inspired by Buddhism

Force of Stillness is a two-day festival bringing together a prominent group of international artists to highlight the significant influence of Buddhism on contemporary art.

The festival presents experimental films and performances that facilitate and transmit a complex range of meditative experiences while addressing topics such as visual colonization, queer performativity, alternate experiences of temporality, and experiments with meditative gestures in public.

Force of Stillness is curated by Amber Bemak




About the Artists

Trinh T. Minh-ha is a filmmaker, writer, composer, and professor of rhetoric and of gender and women’s studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work includes eight feature-length films honored in numerous retrospectives around the world, several large-scale collaborative installations, and numerous books including Lovecidal: Walking with the Disappeared; D-Passage: The Digital Way; Elsewhere, Within Here; and Cinema Interval. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Wild Dreamer Lifetime Achievement Award at the Subversive Festival, Zagreb, Croatia; the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women’s Caucus for Art; and the Trailblazers Award at MIPDOC, Cannes Documentary Film, France.

Mazen Khaled was born in Lebanon and has lived in Dubai, Montreal, and Washington, DC. His work tends to focus on the human body, framing it aesthetically but also placing it within the context of spirituality and the city. Khaled’s work has travelled to major festivals such as Rotterdam IFF, Dubai IFF, Hong Kong IFF, Beirut Cinema Days, and Sarajevo IFF as well as to various galleries and contemporary art platforms such as HomeWorks and Trondheim Academy of Fine Arts. Khaled finished his first feature, A Petty Bourgeois Dream, in May 2016, and is currently developing his second, Martyr.

Laura Vitale’s work has been shown and commissioned by SculptureCenter, WNYC, Issue Project Room, Recess, and MoMA. She uses art to connect disciplines and to explore through the senses the ways we navigate and enjoy contradictory worlds. Vitale began studying and practicing Theravada Buddhism in 2011 and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Elizabeth Phelps Meyer is an interdisciplinary artist who integrates a variety of material and performative approaches to create moving-image narratives and video and sculptural installations. Meyer’s work is fueled by ideas of spiritual practice and transformation and how these might productively overlap with imaginative, expressive, and restorative creative actions. She received her MFA from Purchase College (SUNY) and a BA from Brown University. In 2015 Meyer mounted her first solo show at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticy, where she was also awarded a VAN/NPN residency. She currently lives and teaches in Poughkeepsie, New York, with her husband and young daughter.

Sunny J. Myung is a filmmaker and artist based in Seoul working primarily in the mediums of video and photography. She has held various exhibitions around the country and worked for renowned filmmakers in South Korea. Having lived a nomadic life, wandering from the Americas to Europe, Africa, and Asia, she is interested in issues of identity, nationality, Asian values, and multiculturalism. Artistically she tries to experiment and expand the possibilities of visual language in film and video and metaphorically document lives and minds of the socially unknown. Her recent work, Intangible Asset, was shown at the Seoul Arts Center.

Nadia Granados is originally from Colombia and is currently based in Mexico City. Her work explores the relationships between traditional pornography and violence and is both performative and technological, art and activism, and a mix of cabaret, intervention, and streaming video. Among the many awards she has received are the Franklin Furnace Fund, the Third Visual Arts Biennial Bogotá Prize, and the FONCA award for Colombia-Mexico artist residencies. Her work has been presented in Canada, Venezuela, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Berlin, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, the United States, Mexico, Korea, Brazil, and Colombia.

Bernadine Mellis makes films that span political non-fiction and experimental fiction. Her documentary The Forest for the Trees follows environmentalist Judi Bari’s civil case against the FBI. Bernadine also directed The Odyssey, a collaborative, queer adaptation of Homer’s epic. Her short films include a project commissioned by FuturePoem Books entitled I Should Think Fire. Currently Mellis is working on two projects: an archive of stories of children of the New Left and a documentary following architect Katrina Spade as she builds an urban site for creating compost out of the dead. Mellis is a senior lecturer in film and video production for the Five College Consortium.

Vanessa Anspaugh is a choreographer and performance-based artist. Many of the questions that surround her work address the myriad relationships that exist in collections of groups and individuals, touching on tropes such as directorship, authorship, collaboration, collectivity, domination, emptiness, and love. Her work has been both commissioned and presented by Danspace Project, DTW, New York Live Arts, the Joyce Theater, the River to River Festival, BAX, the Sculpture Center, the Hessel Museum of Art, and Movement Research among others. She has had funded residencies through DTW, Mount Tremper Arts, Kattsbaan, the Mac Dowell Colony, LMCC, BAX, BOFFO, and Bard College.

Zach Layton is a guitarist, composer, curator, teacher, and media artist. He has performed and exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum, the Kitchen, PS1/MoMa, and many other venues in New York and worldwide. He is the founder of the experimental music series Darmstadt: Classics of the Avant Garde, former co-curator of PS1/MoMa WarmUp, curator of Issue Project Room from 2008 to 2013, and an assistant professor of contemporary music at Eugene Lang College at the New School. He was selected in 2015 for a Foundation for Contemporary Arts grants to artists award.

Babeth VanLoo is an internationally acclaimed Dutch media artist and filmmaker who gained international acclaim for her film projects made with her teacher, the artist Joseph Beuys. Her art is in his tradition of “social sculpture,” a notion that transcends the boundaries among art, media, and social action. VanLoo co-founded and served as programming director of the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation, the first Buddhist television station in the Western world, as well as being the founder and director of the Buddhist Film Festival in Europe. In 2013 she received the Outstanding Woman in Buddhism Award in Thailand. Her book ART = LIFE = ART will be published in November 2016 by Samsara Books.

Zhang Huan, born in Anyang, Henan Province, in 1965, currently works and lives in Shanghai. He focused on performance art in Beijing in the 1990’s and was considered one of the foremost avant-garde artists in the nation. In 1998 he relocated to New York, where he gained international recognition. In 2005 he returned to Shanghai and established Zhang Huan Studio. His art expresses thoughts on daily life, Buddhist doctrine, traditional culture, and the current spiritual and physical environment. Besides oil painting, he has adopted new media such as ash painting, ox-hide sculpture, door carving, and feather woodcutting.

Bill Viola is internationally recognized as one of today’s leading artists. For forty years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s video installations are shown in museums and galleries worldwide, his single channel videotapes have been widely broadcast and presented, and his writings have been extensively published, and translated for international readers. Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul began making films and video shorts in 1994. He has mounted exhibitions and installations in many countries. Often non-linear with a strong sense of dislocation, his works deal with memory, subtly addressed personal politics, and social issues. They have won him widespread international recognition and numerous festival prizes, including a Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival. He received the Sharjah Biennial Prize at the 2013 Sharjah Biennial 11, UAE. He’s also a recipient of the Fukuoka Prize (Japan, 2013) and Yanghyun Art Prize (South Korea, 2014). He recently had a retrospective presented at Tate Britain in 2016.

Amber Bemak teaches filmmaking at Southern Methodist University, and her creative work is based in experimental and documentary film, performance art, and curatorial practice. Bemak’s work focuses on themes of Buddhist culture, cross-cultural encounters in the context of globalization, and performative explorations of the body in relation to greater political systems. Her feature and short films have played in numerous festivals internationally and have been seen at venues that include the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, SculptureCenter, and the European Media Art Festival. She has taught film theory and practice in India, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States.


photo credit: Nadia Granados


Friday & Saturday: $70

Saturday: $50

Individual event tickets priced below



In the theater:

7:00-9:00 p.m.


East Coast Premiere: Forgetting Vietnam (2015, South Korea/U.S./Vietnam, 90 min.)

Directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha

Filmmaker will introduce the film and follow with a Q&A.