Sacred Spaces is an enchanting, tranquil experience at the Rubin Museum. This exhibition wraps the entirety of the fourth floor. It includes a shrine room with an adjoining gallery for supplemental materials, sound installation, record room, and video installation. The works were commissioned by the museum. They focus on the mission to support art of the Himalayas, which is where the artists traveled to in creating their pieces. The theme of wind has been implemented into each of the works which carries the viewer onward through each installation.
Sacred Spaces keeps consistent with the museum’s atmosphere as a whole. Walls facing the open areas of the central staircase are a dark gray, similar to the tones of other floors. This creates a feeling as if one is inside a dimly-lit temple. Through the use of the dark atmosphere, the visual aspects can be highlighted, focusing one’s attention selectively. Also, the visitor is more prone to be transported into a meditative state by the sound installations as the sense of hearing is called forward.
The shrine room is a replica of a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Sounds of bells and Eastern string instruments play with a hum of wisping through the track. A low, wooden ceiling has been constructed to fit the scene and activates the nose with its wood scent. One is lead to an adjacent gallery by its mustard yellow paint, where wall text explains the nuances of the display. A touch screen is implemented to allow one to select areas of the shrine to zoom in and read more about the objects.
Within the next gallery, four speakers stand evenly spaced on either side of the room. Bean bags are placed down the center for the visitor to relax and be transported by the sound installation. The lights are extremely dim to allow for meditation as one hears the music within the Himalayan wind. Within the next gallery, three pedestals stand with record players atop them which play wind-inspired sound pieces. The viewer is invited to listen through headsets and flip the records while viewing artworks that have been created by wind blowing ink across a page.
The last room plays two videos of mirroring content, where a kaleidoscope image of wind-blown prayer flags waves across the screen. Seating is placed along the opposite wall with headphones so one may listen to the sound art of the wind that is causing the movement of the flags.
Sacred Spaces creates a soothing, yet intriguing, experience. It fits seamlessly into the scheme of the museum as a whole. The curatorial decisions carry the viewer to a meditative state through the dim lighting, comfortable seating environments, and the consistency of the wind sounds. The viewer is engaged by participating in the atmosphere of the shrine room, meditating in the comfort of the seating, and being the disc jockey of their own record station. This exhibition transports the viewer by capturing the essence of being present at twilight in the Himalayan wind.
The Rubin Museum of Art
November 11, 2016 – June 5, 2017