Friday, May 23, 2008
On Sunday my family took me to visit the White Temple. It is modern Buddhist art in-progress... the nationally acclaimed artist has dedicated the rest of his life to building the nine building temple complex. He knows it won't be finished in his lifetime (he is 55) so he has trained disciples of his work, one group aged 16 and the other aged 24, to help complete it.
It is intricate mirror mosaic set into cement, in the curving, ornate shapes of the traditional Buddhist temple. There's also definitely some odd modern flair- the mural inside (which unfortunately I couldn't take photos of) includes Keanu Reeve's character from the Matrix, along with other memorabilia from the movie- the electronic bugs and cables of the matrix, all painted alongside Golden Buddhas, and three-headed snake dragons, etc. Wild.
We walked among the workers who were putting together future pieces of the temple, whose mosaic cement shop was set up under a large tent at the back of the grounds. The dream of the artist is for it to be a modern Buddhist masterpiece, his gift to his country. The white temple is treated like a temple inside, though there were way more tourists than monks visiting the day I was there. Fascinating, and a bit bizarre.