Buddha Mind. 2019
C-print with gallery Plexiglass facemount on woodbase
22 x 22 inches
Courtesy of the artist
How far can blue go? Transcending borders of space and time, it is the never-ending story of color in culture. Bettina WitteVeen is a Mannheim-born artist educated at Wellesley College who is a devout Buddhist. Her epic humanitarian project Heart of Darkness has led her to hunt for haunting blues in such “extraterritorial” sites as a meadow of blue flowers on the site of a former Russian gulag, a Native American reservation, the servers in the depths of a Google storage facility and in the present case, Lake Inle in Myanmar and a pagoda in Yangon at dawn and at sunset. The blue of this Buddha was never really there, though. The print is actually the “color reversal” of the original gold image, as is the serene blue lake at dawn. She contrasts the symbolic solar gold of the rational, “day Mind” with the blue “Night Mind,” lunar and female:
In emphasizing dualism by the use of the colors this series intends to guide the viewer to the realization that the perceived dualistic nature of our world is illusory. The Buddhist belief that the structure of the universe is inherently unstable and unpredictable coincides with quantum physics and finds its expression in the highly individualistic combinable nature of these photographs. Were we to understand that all phenomena are ultimately empty and non-existent (Pragaparamita) much suffering could be avoided and we would be liberated from the curse of Samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth.