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Surround yourself with the sounds of Himalayan wind at the Rubin Museum of Art
Soundwalk Collective journey.

NEW YORK, NY.- In the second iteration of its “Sacred Spaces” exhibition, the Rubin Museum of Art surrounds visitors with sound environments and visuals in “Himalayan Wind,” including a major site-specific commission from the international art and genre-bending music group Soundwalk Collective. The installation continues Sacred Spaces’ focus on devotional activities in awe-inspiring places, as the sounds were recorded during travels to the world’s highest monasteries in the remote Mustang region of Nepal.

The immersive and meditative experience includes sounds like the whistle of strong winds at some of the highest located Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas, the flapping of prayer flags, the chanting of blessings, the echoes of wind from the valley below, and the interplay of sound and silence. Entitled Khandroma, after a spiritual muse in Tibetan Buddhism, the piece is being presented as a multi-channel audio installation through state-of-the-art speakers. Visitors can also interact directly by playing individual tracks from the sound environments at dedicated listening stations featuring state of the art Audio-Technica LP5 turntables and M70x professional studio headphones. The deity Khandroma is an energetic volatile being, also known as “the one who traverses the sky,” and therefore closely related to the sounds of the piece.

Earlier this year, Soundwalk Collective, in collaboration with sound artist Francisco López, recorded 120 hours of wind footage from more than 200 villages and monasteries in Upper Mustang, Nepal. They would reach each location in the morning, before the wind picked up strongly around noon, and then record and film until the evening. The recordings selected for the final installation were chosen for textural and tonal properties, and by monastery, to portray both the location of origin as well as the musical quality that is innate in the sound of the Mustang wind. In a nod to this recording process, the Rubin Museum will distribute limited edition vinyl LP copies of Khandroma to visitors beginning at noon on days when New York City’s winds exceed ten miles per hour.

“The valley of Mustang is known for the strongest wind in the Himalayas, with gales between force eight to ten on the Beaufort scale. There was no better place for us to capture the breath and soul of the Himalayan wind than in this valley,” said Soundwalk Collective founder Stephan Crasneanscki. “Through all these recordings we have been trying to paint an ‘image’ of the wind, like the one carried by the prayers through the flutter of the Lung-P’ar, the white flags that are placed at all mountain passes to protect the travellers in their journey. The flags drift and their shadows dance against the immaculate, mineral, white stones of the mountains.”

Complementing the audio experience, a video installation filmed by Crasneanscki shows cyclic kaleidoscopic imagery of prayer wheels and flags from Himalayan monasteries, an effect created by handmade kaleidoscopes that are built with glass and crystals and then mounted on the camera lens. The resulting images form inverted triangles, evoking a symbol in Tibetan Buddhism that represents the search for equilibrium and equanimity.

Visitors can also retreat from the winds in the expanded installation of the Museum’s beloved Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, which opened in 2015. Flickering butter lamps, the scent of incense, and the sounds of monks chanting will envelop visitors as they enter this re-creation of a traditional shrine that would be used for offering, devotion, prayer, and contemplation. The sounds heard in the Shrine Room are new, original recordings from Soundwalk Collective’s travels in Nepal.

“A sacred space can be a physical place, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to step outside of daily routine and distraction, and contemplate what is resonant and meaningful,” said Beth Citron, Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Rubin.

The Rubin Museum’s ongoing “Sacred Spaces” exhibition highlights a rotating variety of devotional places, allowing visitors to view art objects within an evoked cultural context while contemplating their own ideas about what sacred spaces mean to them.

Himalayan Wind is organized by Beth Citron, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room is curated by Elena Pakhoutova, Curator of Himalayan Art; the design and installation are overseen by John Monaco, Head of Exhibition Design, all of the Rubin Museum. Acoustic design and eight-channel speaker system by Daniel Neumann.

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