Art and Buddhism or Killing the Ego by Letting it Be

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I am, as much as I can be anything, a Buddhist (I’m other things, too, of course, especially when it comes to faith, since I like reimagining myself but that doesn’t matter now). Now there is no chance of me being a Buddhist in the Asian sense…I have lived with Buddhists and seen that the rules and private laws that I follow are fundamentally different to those that they follow…their world hangs from a different frame.

Yet I do believe, not in the Buddha as an attainable transformation of self into superhero, neither in enlightenment, but in the sensual world as maya, as “malleable illusion” or magic. I also believe, following that thought, that the ego is one big illusion, a mindfuck that each of us has developed in order to deal with the external world.

I believe that beyond the personal, there is something transpersonal. That it is possible to see yourself as a tiny speck in a vast whole and not lose any sense of self or purpose, but come out of it stronger and more confident and less controlled by the ebb and flow of emotions. This does not mean that emotions are less keenly felt, quite often they are stronger, but they exist on their own terms and I have learned to swim in them and sometimes to build bridges over them.

Yet one thing bothers me, particularly.

Art in some sense, especially a modern sense, is an exaltation of the one thing that I think illusory: the ego. In simple terms, I wonder how one can be an artist without completely disappearing up one’s own ass.

In one sense one has to believe in the art one creates and to make things that are fundamentally unimportant appear grand and important. It’s a sleight of hand, a magician’s trick. Yet there must be a balance between treating it with too obvious disdain (for that is another sign of an out of control ego, only the other side) and between not caring about it at all. Not giving a fuck leads to bad art. Giving too much of a fuck does too.

So…what to do?

Believe without believing? I don’t know.

Writing makes this split easier. Not believing in the reality of the ego, I can simply make up a hundred more and let them go at each other. I don’t come out of this experiment with any change of heart and soul, but I understand more about the unreality of personality. It is play, maya at work.

Photography makes it hard. You see everything except for the photographer yet for some reason the photographer is all you see in a good picture. By making himself invisible, he becomes the most visible thing of all. It runs contrary to what I believe.

Essentially I think the answer is just doing it without much worry about the what, the why and the what after. Finding the act, the sense of the act and the communal sense of the act (the dharma of Buddhist thought, where an act needs to be connected to all beings in order to be considered an excellent act…of course this is often a gesture more than anything, another sleight of hand, perhaps) in the doing itself.

Perhaps it is also helpful to consider that what is obvious to you (the inside of your head) may be both mysterious and new to another. Why this may be so, I do not understand, but I suppose it is just so.

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OpenArt – Workshops for Painting/Drawing/Photography And Dance All Over the Globe

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OpenArt ist der Versuch von mir, Sebastian Buchner, und meiner Mutter, Christine Buchner, Kunst, Kreativität und Reisen miteinander zu verbinden. Wir bieten seit 2010 Workshops in Fotografie und Malerei an den unterschiedlichsten Plätzen der Welt an. Bisher haben wir Workshops in Europa, Afrika und Asien geplant und durchgeführt.

Dazu mieten wir gemeinsam mit einer bewusst klein gehaltenen Gruppe eine Basis, ein Haus oder ein Riad oder ein großes Apartment oder eine Villa, in der wir genug Platz haben diese Workshops durchzuführen und das in einer Umgebung steht, die uns reichhaltige Motive für die künstlerische Tätigkeit liefert.

Wir arbeiten beide als Künstler und Kursleiter – ich habe zusätzlich mehrjährige Erfahrung als Reiseleiter, die mir hier bei Organisation und Durchführung der Workshops sehr zugute kommt – und möchten unsere Philosophie des Reisens mit offenen Augen mit diesen Workshops vermitteln. Nach Möglichkeit versuchen wir in Kontakt mit regionalen und lokalen Künstlern zu treten und sie bitten, ihre Arbeit mit den Besuchern zu teilen.

Es ist zwar eine Gruppenreise, aber sie ist mit dem Geist einer Individualreise organisiert. Wir arbeiten nicht nach Fließband und liefern vorgefertigte Erfahrungen, sondern jede Reise ist einzigartig und wächst mit der Teilnahme der Mitreisenden. Unerwartetes, die eigentliche Essenz des Reisens, versuchen wir nicht zu vermeiden nur um zweifelhaften Komfort und steril-reibungslosen Ablauf zu bieten.

Programm sind unsere Workshops, die meistens halbtägig ablaufen. In manchen Fällen haben wir Ausflüge organisiert, aber wir achten immer darauf, dass es genug Freiraum für Improvisation gibt.

Mit 2014 freue ich mich sehr, dass wir zusätzlich zu Malerei und Fotografie auch Tanzworkshops anbieten können. Die werden geleitet von der wunderbaren Tänzerin Michaela Hamajova, die solo und als Teil des Tanzduos Nakari nationale und internationale Auftritte und mehrere Jahre Workshoperfahrung vorweisen kann. Sie tanzt in der faszinierenden Welt von Tribal Dance – eine Art des Tanzes in der uralte und moderne Einflüsse aus der ganzen Welt zusammenkommen und wo der Fokus auf individuellem Ausdruck, Improvisation und Kreativität liegt. Eine Bereicherung unseres Angebotes, das besser kaum in die Philosophie von OpenArt passen kann.

Das hier ist unsere Vorstellung der Philosophie, Idee und der Veranstalter. Wir arbeiten derzeit am Programm für 2014, das wir bald präsentieren können. Für interessierte, das verbleibende Programm von 2013 ist auf unserer Seite http://www.openart.or.at zu finden.

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OpenArt is the attempt of myself, Sebastian Buchner, and my mother, Christine Buchner to bridge creativity, art and travel, the fundaments of our lives. OpenArt offers painting and photography workshops all around the world, allowing people to experience foreign cultures through art and develop their own creativity. We started this program in 2010 and have so far offered courses in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Our basic setup goes like this: We rent a place that serves as our headquarters. This can be a loft, a villa, a riad or an alternative style homestead. From these headquarters, where there is ample space to conduct the workshops, cook our own meals if desired and to have some space of one’s own as well as the comfort of the group, we explore the surroundings, looking for ideal motifs to sketch or places and people to photograph.

Both of us have experience working as artists and conducting workshops – in addition I have been working as a tour guide for several years and can benefit from this experience while I organize the workshops and scout for new locations. Our philosophy is all about traveling with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart. Whenever we have the possibility we try to work with local artists and encourage them to show us their work and methods.

We are traveling with a group, yes, but we do our best to organize the workshops in the spirit of individual traveling. This is not a factory-made, all-expenses-paid, resort-and-animator style workshop, but a communal and cultural and above all creative experience. It requires participation, but it also rewards it. Additionally we do not try to eliminate the Unexpected – a staple of every journey – but we try to embrace it.

The program consists of our workshops. These usually take up half the day. Some days we organize excursions or meetings, but there is always enough room for improvisation.

From 2014 (and hopefully onward) I am very happy to introduce a new aspect of OpenArt. Dance workshops. Those are led by the wonderful dancer and teacher Michaela Hamajova. She has been dancing nationally and internationally as a solo dancer and as member of the duo Nakari and has been teaching workshops for several years. Her style of dance is Tribal, an eclectic mix of ancient and modern traditions that emphasizes personal creativity, individual expression and improvisation. I couldn’t imagine a better fit for OpenArt’s philosophy.

This is simply our introduction – we hope we have presented the philosophy and idea behind OpenArt in a convincing manner. Currently we are working on our program for 2014. For anyone who is interested in the current program, may I refer you to our website: http://www.openart.or.at

Art Can Happen to All of Us

henri_cartier_bresson011Henri Matisse, by another Henri (Cartier-Bresson)

  Art is a fundamentally undemocratic process. It can be deliberate, raw, tortured, beautiful, cynical, strange, stunning, gorgeous, contradictory, but it is not decided by committee.

  Maybe that’s an old-fashioned view – the world after all is connected now and everything seems designed by a collective or at least that’s the utopian idea behind the society many people wish to see.

  However, art as such is not a part of the collective realm of commerce, economy, society, politics or religion, but a voice and a place that stands – by its very necessity – apart from all that. It is what allows a work of art to comment or reflect on any other of the elements of our existence. It stands at a remove.

  It may be a Utopian remove, a locked ivory tower of the senses and perceptions, or it may be the cold and harsh voice of a hermit or the unconcerned voice of a self-absorbed wanderer, but it is a deeply necessary aspect of life, this remove from the bustle and self-importance.

  It’s a playground of the imagination, but it’s also a hall of sometimes distorting, sometimes deeply truthful mirrors. A necessary mystery, because it allows for quiet and reflection.

  From a very regular and normal point of view it certainly seems superfluous, especially if it doesn’t sell, but that is missing the point completely. It is superfluous, but at the same time it is our own greatest achievement, because it is a reflection of self-awareness and presence, of what we like to call out own humanity.

  Art creates a place where we can reflect on our own actions, as an individual or a species, look for answers and alternatives or simply amuse or scare ourselves by those puzzling mirages that we observe, forgetting that they are ourselves.

  Art is not defined, it happens sometimes and sometimes fails to happen. It can appear for moments in a soap opera or in any circumstance of our lives or it can be there permanently, for a mind open to watch out for it.

  To decide by committee what art is and what not, to imagine that any label would turn something into art or turn something away from being art is a ridiculous notion. To teach somebody what is art and what not is equally ridiculous. To imagine that something is and always remains art, ridiculous.

  But a moment of openness can turn errors into art, mistakes into fantasies, small moments into something meaningful.

  Art, in short, is something that happens to all of us, but is not something that we can get together and nominate to appear.

About Me

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My name is Sebastian Buchner. I have occasionally called myself a photographer or an artist or whatever you want, but the truth is (which I realize again and again) that I am a storyteller who just happens to work with different media, some visual, some informative, some purely fictional.

I don’t make a living from it, for the most part, although sometimes I buy food and pay bills with money made by photography or words – this makes me very happy and makes me believe that it can and will change. I make my living by travelling, incidentally, and by the occasional class in photography, drawing and visual storytelling. I also talk about my travels, write about them and exhibit photographs. I write lots of fiction as well – and some non-fiction. I take pictures of people and of the stuff I see in my head.

Should you happen to like anything you see here, you are more than welcome to write to me. I will take photographs for you, listen to you if you have something interesting to tell and I am always willing to collaborate on interesting projects.

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Über mich:

Ich heiße Sebastian Buchner . Gelegentlich habe ich mich als Fotografen oder Künstler beschrieben, aber am treffendsten ist es wohl zu sagen, dass ich ein Geschichtenerzähler bin, der in verschiedenen Medien arbeitet. Einige davon sind visuelle Medien, andere informative und wieder andere rein erfundene.

Hin und wieder kann ich mein Brot und meine Rechnungen mit Geld bezahlen, das ich mit Fotografie oder Worten gemacht habe – das macht mich unglaublich glücklich. Ich lebe vom Reisen und von Kursen in Fotografie, Zeichnen und visuellem Geschichtenerzählen. Ich halte auch Vorträge über meine Reisen, schreibe Artikel und zeige meine Fotografien bei Ausstellungen. Ich schreibe viel und fotografiere Menschen in ihrem Leben und Werken und hin und wieder die Bilder, die in meinem Kopf auftauchen.

Wenn Dir irgendetwas hier gefällt, kannst Du mir gerne schreiben. Ich mache gerne Auftragsfotografien, höre jedem zu der etwas Interessantes zu erzählen hat und bin immer interessiert an potentiellen Kollaborationen.