Burning against the Dying of the Light, the Body as Site of Radical Protest
Ritu Sarin
Tenzing Sonam

The self immolations of Ngawang Norpal and Tenzin Kaldrup 20 June 2012 quadrat
Galerie Bilder ansehen
Thu 27.01.22 18:30 Uhr

Since February 2009, an estimated 155 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet. Of these, 133 are known to have died. The whereabouts and condition of those who survived are still largely unknown. While many of those who set fire to themselves were monks and nuns, they also included teachers, students, herdsmen and farmers. The youngest was 15 years old. The self-immolations usually occurred in public spaces – on street corners, outside places of worship – in full view of passers-by. They were acts of protest and they were intended to be witnessed. The actions of the self-immolators in Tibet could similarly be seen to be taking place in the service of a noble goal, fully congruent with the Buddhist ideal of sacrificing oneself for a larger goal that benefits many. Here self-immolation becomes the only action available to protest and draw attention to the increasingly intolerable situation in Tibet, one where all other avenues of peaceful protest have been brutally shut down. Burning the self is transformed into a political action to save a nation. Our lecture for the “Bodies, (un)settled” series will be based on our multimedia installation, Burning Against the Dying of the Light, which was our attempt to respond to and make sense of the self-immolation movement in Tibet. It was exhibited, first at Khoj Studios in New Delhi in 2015 and then as part of Contour Biennale 8 in 2017. Our talk will include photographs, video excerpts, last testaments and fragments of poetry that were presented as part of the installation.


Indian-Tibetan filmmakers and artists Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam are based in Dharamshala, India. They have been working together for more than 30 years. Their work includes award-winning films and art installations. A recurring subject in their work is Tibet, with which they have been intimately involved; personally, politically and artistically. Their documentary, The Sun Behind the Clouds (2009), won the Vaclav Havel Award at the One World Film Festival in Prague. Their Tibetan-language feature films, Dreaming Lhasa (2005) and The Sweet Requiem (2018) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Their art work has shown widely, including at: Berlinale Forum Expanded, Contour Biennale, Busan Biennale, Mori Art Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary and Khoj Studios. They are also the directors of the Dharamshala International Film Festival, which they founded in 2012 and is now one of India’s leading independent film festivals.

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Meeting-ID: 821 9266 1889
Kenncode: 025612

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