by Sholeh Johnston
“All my work is essentially the same thing, and every piece relates in some way to my meditation practice … By looking for a way to earn a living doing that spiritual practice, it ends up looking like art.”
Ansuman Biswas is an international artist whose work spans a wide range of media, from theatre directing to music, video work and installations, and is concerned with the universal themes of what he calls the “axial time we’re living in”—science, religion, economics, ecology and our relationships with ourselves and with each other.
He has been practicing Vipassana meditation for many years, and at the heart of his creative process are the 10 pāramitās (perfections) of Theravāda Buddhism, which refer to the cultivation and perfection of certain virtues that serve to purify karma, and help the aspirant to live a more content life. “One of my methods is to start with the pāramitās and think about how can I experiment with them in a real life situation,” says Biswas. “For example, the Dana pāramī, meaning ‘generosity,’ was a starting point for my latest work Present, which is all to do with giving. I asked myself, how could I be generous and also bring out the generosity of others?”
For issue #85 of SUFI, Biswas shares with us the thinking behind his project, PRESENT, and the remarkable experiences that emerged among participants during the installation at Art Exchange.
“What you realize when you’re cultivating the Dana pāramī is that you’re not actually giving anything away; in fact you’re making space for the generosity which is a feature of the universe.”
Read more about Biswas’ work in the latest issue of SUFI.