To complement the exhibition Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China's Silk Road, on view at the Getty Center May 7 through September 4, 2016, a variety of public programs will be presented targeting a broad audience, including the scholarly community, educators, and families.
A scholarly symposium, May 19–21, cohosted with the University of California, Los Angeles, will bring together more than twenty international scholars. They will explore the unique confluence of historical perspectives, spiritual content, artistic practice, and innovative approaches to conservation at the Mogao Grottoes site.
Extending the themes of the scholarly symposium to a larger audience, a number of public lectures will be presented. These lectures will provide new insights into the exhibition, with speakers discussing topics such as the world's first complete book bearing a date, the Diamond Sutra (June 5), concepts of karma and rebirth in China (June 26), life on the Silk Road (July 24), and the Getty's conservation efforts at Dunhuang (August 28).
A series of performances and conversations with artists will draw upon the many cultures that influenced the art in the Dunhuang cave temples and that are vividly illustrated in the wall paintings. Music from China, India, the Middle East, and Central Asia will bring the Silk Road to the Getty Center on May 20. Composer and conductor Tan Dun—inspired by Dunhuang and the cave temple wall paintings—will discuss his creative process as a musician and composer on July 17. This event includes a musical performance inspired by Tan Dun's current research.
Opera and theater director Peter Sellars will be joined by Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman on August 10 for a conversation about Dunhuang and the Vimalakirti Sutra—an allegorical text of Buddhist teachings, scenes of which are well-represented in the Dunhuang cave temples. Both are sources of inspiration for Sellars's upcoming production.
The performances will culminate with a screening of The Cave of the Silken Web on August 24. Newly preserved, this 1927 silent film by Dan Duyu is possibly the first film adaptation of one of the most enduring classics of Chinese literature, Journey to the West. The Cave of the Silken Web, once thought lost, was rediscovered several years ago in the National Library of Norway. This rare cinematic treasure will have its Los Angeles preservation premiere in an outdoor screening at the Getty Center, with live musical accompaniment. Visit Getty 360 for information and tickets.