Performance | Wang Dongling at the Brooklyn Museum

On November 7, 2015, Wang Dongling will give a public performance at the Brooklyn Museum. He will write the Heart Sutra in his groundbreaking invention luanshu or "chaos script," in which characters and even entire columns of text collide, generating an energetic and amorphous chaos. In this radical departure from traditional aesthetics, written language is pushed to the brink of legibility and yet held back from pure graphic expressionism—in distinction to the action painting of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Chaos script also heightens the tension between the calligrapher's control—honed by a lifetime of training—and the spontaneity of live performance.

The Heart Sutra (Sanskrit: Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra, “Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra”) is one of the most important Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, and over the past centuries has been tackled by generations of illustrious calligraphers. Barely more than 200 characters, it is a concise articulation of the core tenet of Mahayana Buddhism: that all mental and physical phenomena are ultimately empty. This is encapsulated in “form is emptiness, emptiness is form,” among the most frequently recited phrases in Mahayana traditions. There are intriguing resonances between the Heart Sutra and Wang Dongling’s calligraphy. In a seeming paradox, the sutra’s words realize their meaning by becoming non-meaning, talismanic objects. Rendered in chaos script, these words verge on sheer visual form and yet make the abstracts they denote visible and palpable.

This event is part of Asia Society's Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW) Program.

Event details:
Saturday, November 7, 7:00 - 9:30 pm (EST)
Brooklyn Museum
4149 45th St. Ground Fl.
Sunnyside, NY 11104

For more information:


October 29, 2015