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Panchen Lama from The Constellation Series

21st century
149.9 cm x 120 cm (59 in. x 47 1/4 in.)

Tavares Strachan (Nassau, The Bahamas, 1979 - ) Primary

Object Type: sculpture
Artist Nationality: North America, Bahamian
Medium and Support: Lightbox
Credit Line: Promised gift of Jeanne and Michael Klein, 2014
Temp ID: PG2014.3

In 1995, the Dalai Lama named the six-year-old Tibetan boy depicted here the new Panchen Lama, endowing him with the sacred responsibility of choosing the next Buddhist leader. A few days after this announcement was made, the child and his parents disappeared; they have not been seen since.

Several years ago, Strachan traveled to Dharamshala in India, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, to learn more about the Panchen Lama’s abduction. This mosaic-like portrait of the Panchen Lama is composed of more than three thousand clippings and illustrations he gathered during that trip. Scattered out-of-focus reproductions of images that connect to Tibetan Buddhism float around the boy’s head, rendering his face as a constellation of stars, several of which appear to be imploding. “I have always been fascinated by invisibility,” Strachan recently explained. Taking forgotten and excluded people and histories as his principal subjects, Strachan often uses light as a means to render these invisible histories visible.

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