I went down to the Yoga: The Art of Transformation today and sat through the first day of the Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium. It was overwhelming to absorb the depth and sway of the panels. I also made a fast run through the exhibit at lunch hour, and after the panels were over went back for a second take. Again, just too much to take in during a visit of a few hours. Stunning, jaw-dropping, eye-opening, compelling—I am running out of superlatives.
I bought the catalog, 328 pages of color reproductions of the exhibit items, additional graphic material (200 color and black-and-white illustrations) and interpretative framework to fill the eyes, mind and soul. I am tempted to say that the book is better than the exhibit, but that would be wrong, because they inhabit different realms. The catalog can swing wide with its full-page color reproductions and authoritative essays, but the exhibit has a physicality, a presence, a gravity that leaves an impression on my senses .
Debra Diamond, the Associate Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art of Freer and Sackler Gallery of Art, headed up the task of assembling the exhibit and the catalog. She was backed up a core group scholars and contributors, as well as the museum support staff. Essays by Debra Diamond, David Gordon White, Tamara I. Sears, Carl W. Ernst, James Mallinson, Joseph S. Alter, and Mark Singleton—all heavy hitters in the academic world of South Asian studies and yoga specifically.
Since my fingers are still tingling from tracing across the pages (all 10 inches by 12 inches of them) of the book , it’s too early for me to give a more in-depth comment on the book. I am glad that I shelled out the extra cash because it will remind me of the sensations that were stirred up by the exhibit and the symposium.
The book is not yet listed in the Gallery exhibit catalogs, but it is available in the gift shop, $50 hardback, $40 paperback. Additional information about the catalog. (MLS: at the time of writing, there was no page on the catalog, at least not one that I could find. There is one now. It includes eight essays from the catalog in PDF format)
Other information includes:
- Early Films (Including One by Thomas Edison) Made Yoga Look Like Magic.
- Slide show from the exhibit.
- Gala evening to kick off the exhibit
- Crowd fund-raising
- WAMU.org – The Visual History of Yoga (November 14) with Debra Diamond, curator
I finally know how YogaDawg really looks.