Knowing Buddha Organization (KBO) invites you to speak out to protect the Buddha and Buddhism and awaken the morality of mankind.
Reported last Friday (JUN 3) – Louis Vuitton Foundation, operated by the big fashion house Louis Vuitton, showcases a collection of art exhibitions by eleven Chinese artists. In one installation by chinese artist/sculptor Zhang Huan depicts a gigantic eroded inclined carved Buddha head placed on the exhibition floor without any platform, at ground level with visitors freely passing by. Presenting such installation shows great lack of respect and consideration.
The Chinese artist explains that the reason behind his art presentation is to recall the destruction of Buddha statue in the Chinese history. He further states that his work was made of the ruin Buddha statues which he collected during his journey to Tibet. However, regardless of the meaning of this art, Buddha statue, a symbol of the Buddha himself, must not be presented in the art exhibition to diminish its value.
KBO President Ms Acharavadee Wongsakon says this is very inappropriate because it is a well understood practice that all religious symbols and related things deserve to be placed or stored in a high place, particularly holy figures which are often put even above the head.
“It’s a known fact anywhere in the world that some symbols deserve respect such as national flags, religious leaders and figures. People are disrespectful to Buddha partly because Buddhists are weak. We don’t stand up for ourselves, allowing them to do whatever they want. The artist’s intention to reflect the downfall of Buddhism in the past Chinese history doesn’t have to be done this way. It shows the lack of consideration and misleads people to think it’s ok,” the Vipassana meditation master says, adding she would like to ask all artists to think of the feelings of others when it comes to a religious artwork.
Master Acharavadee said the organization is sending the Fondation president Bernard Arnault to thoroughly review its decision and remove the sculpture from the exhibition. It has also sent a petition letter to the Thai Embassy in Paris and the Louis Vuitton office in Bangkok, calling for a removal of the piece.
“I’m also asking all Buddhists who are fans of this brand to think whether to continue supporting this company if it refuses to do so. You should have a clear stand on this….Art cannot be above conscience and should be based on respect. Otherwise, it will only be an excuse to satisfy your own wants,” she said.
Letters are sent to the Thai Embassy in Paris, Bernard Arnault, the president of the foundation and the managing director of Louis Vuitton, Thailand with CC: letter to Christopher Kilationis, president of Louis Vuitton South Asia,to request an urgent stop to this exhibition piece.
Let us make our voices heard to create the good awareness and around the world and to awaken the common morale that have been lost in mankind.
Letter to Mr Bernard Arnault as President, Fondation Louis Vuitton.
June 07, 2016
To: Mr.Bernard Arnault, President of the Fondation Louis Vuitton
Subject: Request for understanding to stop displaying Buddha images in the contemporary Chinese art exhibition
Picture 1 – Placing of the emerald Buddha image in the royal grand palace, Thailand
Picture 2 – Improper display of the Buddha image in the contemporary Chinese art exhibition sponsored by the Fondation Louis Vuitton
Picture 3 – Brochure “Welcome to Buddha Land”
The Knowing Buddha Organization (KBO) protects Buddhism. It was established with the purpose to raise awareness about the appropriate and inappropriate use of Buddha images and symbols. It has been an issue totally neglected where Buddha images and Buddhist symbols are treated disrespectfully all too often. KBO is one of the Buddhist organizations cooperating with the Committee on Religions and the Thai Senate to help solve this ongoing problem that has distorted Buddhism worldwide. We have cooperated with National Office of Buddhism as MOU to help organizing campaigns to educate, protect, and deter further disrespectful act toward the Buddha and Buddhist’s symbols. Through his image, Buddhists are reminded of his gracefulness and his teaching; thus his symbols and all they represent should be respected and reasonably treated.
In the course of its work, KBO has received numerous complaints, expressing feelings and reactions toward disrespectful cases. For instance, some people use a Buddha statue head as decoration and some put his image in gardens and even to decorate toilets. These actions arose without proper consideration, through a wrong sense of Buddhism. These actions cause immeasurable offense to devoted Buddhists who revere Buddha statues and Buddhist symbols as a reminder of his compassion and teachings of Dhamma. The letters which we received express devastation and of being offended and heart-broken, but together with hope to see us stand up for what is right and to represent their voices.
Any important statue or symbol, such as a national flag or a statue of a great individual with immense patronage, like Abraham Lincoln or any great king, all are to be respected and reminded of the good deeds and gracefulness of their ideals, just like images of Buddha. Respect is common sense and is a universal sign of good people. These representations should not be used inappropriately in such ways that have commonly spread throughout the world. Paying respect to these symbols is to pay respect to the soul of the great men they represent. KBO is glad to see that your organization is holding a contemporary Chinese art exhibition which benefits the world as art inspires people and drives thoughtful imagination. However we have been informed that the exhibition is currently improperly displaying “Buddha’s image”. The case is under an Artist Zhang Huan by sculpturing captivated Buddha’s statue and misplacing heading part on the floor with visitors to walk by. We are acknowledged that the inspiration is to draw lessons from the Chinese history when there were campaigns on ruining Buddha but please take serious consideration and view the sculpture. A destroyed Buddha’s head on the ground; isn’t this an invitation to do whatever to our Lord Buddha and repeat such path that deteriorates Buddhism as a whole? Certainly, viewers may misinterpret and got all wrong sense of Buddhism philosophy. This is not right, not appropriate, very regretful and awfully heart-breaking to genuine Buddhists who encounter such display; not even tears could communicate our thoughts.
As the world shall pay respect to any symbol representing what deserves respecting: such as national flags and images of prophets of every religion. This misconduct arose because people see Buddhists as weak that we are “ignorant” and no quarry so and they do anything to the symbol of our beloved Lord Buddha. The presentation so claimed to reflect the decline of Buddhism does not have to be in the form of devastation to the symbol as it may urge many others to follow. Being an artist is to have delicate heart with profound consideration and should not present in a way that crushes other people faith. Art should inspire the world not to destroy it. Should any art piece step on a fellow human heart, we shall not see it an art but a crime of the heart and soul.
“Art shall never overrule righteous conscience. Art must be on a foundation of mutual respect. Otherwise it would only be an excuse to serve someone’s desire.”
– stated the President of Knowing Buddha Organization, and Buddhist Vipassana Meditation Master Acharavadee Wongsakon.
Therefore, we ask for your compassion of understanding and request cooperation to help by please discontinue the inappropriate displays of Buddha image in the exhibition. With this kind cooperation, you would help not only to limit the disrespecting of Buddha but you would also help bringing back the morality of mankind since Respect is Common Sense.
It is our deepest wish for your understanding and, again, we look forward to your kind cooperation and prompt reaction.
Mr. Sayan Chueyuksorn
Director of Knowing Buddha Organization