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this body is so impermanent…

Screening and talk with Peter Sellars, Dr. Craig Blinderman, and Carol Becker

Sunday, February 12, 2023
2:00 PM–4:30 PM

this body is so impermanent”¦” (Vimalakirti Sutra, Chapter Two)

Film directed by Peter Sellars

Presented with the Fisher Center at Bard

Film schedule:

Friday, February 10, 7:00 PM

Saturday, February 11, 2:00 PM

Sunday, February 12, 2:00 PM

The Vimalakirti Sutra, a foundational scripture of Zen Buddhism from the first century CE, understands illness as a path of spiritual awakening. Inspired by this visionary sutra, five virtuosic and singular artists—master calligrapher Wang Dongling, devotional singer Ganavya, improvisatory dancer Michael Schumacher, cinematographer Yu Lik-wai, and director Peter Sellars—came together in the autumn of 2020 to create this 79-minute work. The film explores the deepest of human experiences—health and mortality, spirituality and transcendence—all heightened by the pandemic. Filmed during the 2020 lock down in real-time via a specially created digital platform, with the artists collaborating remotely from Portland, Amsterdam, and Hangzhou, China, this work’s purpose became all the more immediate as illness changed the world in a matter of months.

Co-produced by the Fisher Center and the UCLA Boethius Initiative, with an early iteration of the project first workshopped at the Rubin Museum in 2011, the film features cinematography by Yu Lik-wai, sound design by Shahrokh Yadegari, editing by Tim Squyres, English translation by Robert Thurman, and Chinese translation by KumÄrajÄ«va.

Screenings are followed by a conversation with director Peter Sellars and practitioners in the field of healing and the arts:

Friday, February 10 (7:00″“9:00 PM) with Tibetan doctor Kunga Wangdue.

Saturday, February 11 (2:00″“4:30 PM) with singer Ganavya, dancer Michael Schumacher, Wang Dongling’s artistic liaison Yibin Wang, and film editor Tim Squyres.

Sunday, February 12 (2:00″“4:30 PM) with palliative care physician Dr. Craig Blinderman and Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts Carol Becker.

About the director

Peter Sellars

Peter Sellars is an opera, film, theater, and festival director who has gained international renown for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of classics, advocacy of 20th-century and contemporary music, and collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative artists. Sellars has led major arts festivals in Los Angeles, Adelaide, and Vienna. He is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and Director of the Boethius Initiative at UCLA, and a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival. Initiated at a workshop on the Vimalakirti Sutra at the Rubin in 2011, Sellars conceived and directed this further exploration of the sutra, this body is so impermanent”¦, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Craig D. Blinderman

Dr. Craig D. Blinderman is the Director of the Adult Palliative Medicine Service at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/New-York Presbyterian Hospital, and an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons. Medical ethics and narrative ethics are among his particular interests in the field of palliative and end of life care. Dr. Blinderman also serves on the advisory board and teaches at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care in New York City. This is his second appearance at the Rubin.

Carol Becker

Carol Becker is Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts. She is the author of The Invisible Drama: Women and the Anxiety of Change; Zones of Contention: Essays on Art, Institutions, Gender, and Anxiety; Thinking in Place: Art, Action, and Cultural Production; Surpassing the Spectacle: Global Transformations and the Changing Politics of Art; and Artist in Society: Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities. Her recent memoir is Losing Helen: An Essay.

Carol was Dean of Faculty and Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before arriving at Columbia University. She travels widely and lectures on issues of art and society.

These screenings are made possible through support from the Fisher Center at Bard, New York Life, Barbara and Sven Huseby, Columbia University’s Division of Narrative Medicine, and Columbia University School of the Arts.

Suggested Ticket Price: $10.00

Member Tickets: Free

Pay what you wish for this film screening event, which includes admission to the Rubin Museum galleries. Advance registration required. A generous ticket purchase shows your support of the Museum and helps us develop future offerings.