This summer I devoted much of my time to reading, and a significant part of my reading list was chosen in preparation for the series of gallery talks that I will be delivering at the Saint Louis Art Museum next week. For the past five years or so I have been particularly interested in questions of emptiness– a byproduct, I am sure, of a longer engagement with Chinese painting and calligraphy. When I was invited to give these gallery talks on a subject of my choice, it seemed like a good opportunity for an investigation, definition, and articulation of this “emptiness”. The title of the talk refers back to a quotation from Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching:
From a lump of clay, one fashions a vase; the emptiness in the vase permits its usefulness. One makes doors and windows for a room; the emptiness in the room permits its usefulness. Being is what creates advantage, but emptiness structures use.
Using the tangible, visible, and literal as points of reference, we will quickly move farther afield to explore the role of emptiness as it relates to artistic action, the role of the viewer, the question of relevance, and even our concepts of space and time. It’s a lot to pack into 45 minutes, but I hope that you will come out to join the conversation. Location, dates, and times are:
Saint Louis Art Museum: meet at information desk, then proceed to the East Asian gallery
Thursday, September 30, 11:00 a.m.
Friday, October 1, 6:00 p.m.