Lightning At Monuments

by Andrej Tisma

Tashi Leo Lightning performing “No Boundaries” in Amsterdam, 1990Unusual performances that American artist, Tashi Leo Lightning is doing all over the world under the title “No Boundaries” are about meditation. These performances resemble tai chi at first glance, but the slow motions of the artist's body that take hours are coming from a meditation process. Lightning usually does “No Boundaries” performances at national monuments and boundaries between countries. By doing that he is trying to eliminate boundaries between people, nationalities, cultural traditions, ideologies, and especially the boundaries between himself and the spectator. Lightning's performances come from deep concentration which makes a strong impression on the viewer, not by the performance’s outward effects which can seem monotonous sometimes, but by the radiation of the artist's inner energy.

Tashi Leo Lightning has been performing “No Boundaries” for the last three years. In 1989 he performed at the Berlin Wall, just prior to its opening. Recently, in September of this year his hour-long “No Boundaries” was performed in Amsterdam on the Dam Square. After that he did it in October in Paris, under the glass pyramid at the Louvre, when it took nine hours, and his latest performance at St. Mark's Place in Venice took about twelve hours.

Tashi Leo Lightning is an intermedia visual and performing artist who uses photography, collage, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, and performance to create art that reflects social, environmental, and spiritual values. Born in New York, he has lived in Hawaii for sixteen years, synthesizing art into his study and practice of Buddhism, meditation, metaphysics, psychology and the healing traditions. As a performer, his interests led him through dance, figure skating, mime, tai chi, aikido and theatre.

October, 1990


NO BOUNDARIES - International Sited Performance Work

by Tashi Leo Lightning

Tashi Leo Lightning in "No Boundaries", VeniceThe performance series "No Boundaries" began as a way to explore the process of the way boundaries are formed in individuals, language, culture, ideas, the shifting perspective of meaning, and the mind, out of which we form choices and identities. Using awareness sustained through meditative and shamanistic views a site is intuitively chosen, and often a temporary visual element is installed there. Sites are either national monuments, sacred sites, or the actual borders or boundaries of countries. Each site and performance is a section of the work that was begun in 1989 and continued for seven years.

Allowing ones body to move is very different than making movement. Sustaining a choiceless awareness and concentration as well as not allowing thought, physical sensation, and emotion to dominate is the challenge of this performance. The length of the sections has varied from one hour to twelve hours, the mean being around four hours.

Creating and expressing narratives about identity can foster understanding from a mutual experience, or divide and create boundaries. This performance work "No Boundaries" presents language in a kinesthetic and non-narrative way in which viewers can choose to relinquish identity in rational narrative structure and flow an awareness that is not centered in past or future, but on the continuous moment. The clothes worn during the performance varied from all white, all black, black and white, and all grey, and included a full year in 1990 dressed in pants and shirt that had green trees and landscape and a small house, with animals and people. The clothes of trees and landscape was to draw attention to the ecology of the earth that is in peril, and the spiritual aspect that reverses the human ego identity as the anthropocentric highest intelligence, and gives acknowledgement to the larger intelligence(s) of the universe that we are a part.

The Dance of Shiva, the Hindu god of creation, preservation and destruction comes to mind, as do the shamans of ancient traditions. Transformation is the process and product of such a work, closing the gap between subject and object, I and other, and attempting a non-aggressive message and method, using the artist/performer as catalyst-alchemist-shaman-healer. The transformation of the site, of the viewer, and culture can happen at any moment that we allow ourselves to meet in unprejudiced moments together, not in spectacle or fantasy. "No Boundaries" attempts this by being a kinesthetic experience. Transforming the mind is the ultimate aesthetic action.

Tashi Leo Lightning
copyright 2007