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Lindy Lee's practice considers her Chinese Australian heritage primarily through the philosophies of Zen Buddhism and Taoism. In Kalpa Fires the artist juxtaposes historical images from her family's archive with abstract fire drawings to reflect on the cosmos and our interconnectivity and transience as beings.
Lee has invoked the elements in these works on paper by repeatedly piercing, scorching and drenching them with fire and water. As each burn mark and notation embodies a single moment, similarly, each photographic portrait is the record of an instant of time in the sitter's life. By aligning the photographic (and human) with the elemental, Lee addresses the vast sweep of time that is intrinsic to all nature and life and draws on the cosmos as the totality of everything that has happened in the past, present and future. Cosmos is the eternal unfolding of time - of cause, condition and process. From an ego standpoint, individual life may seem unutterably insignificant in comparison to this unfathomable magnitude, yet from an absolute perspective, each life is a living unit of cosmological time. As Dogen, the 13th-century Japanese Zen master relates: we are time-beings.
*In Buddhism, a kalpa is an immeasurably huge unit of cosmological time so vast that if an angel were to descend from heaven every 500 years to brush the world's highest mountain with her wings, the mountain would be completely depleted long before the end of a kalpa. A kalpa fire is the apocalyptic event that ends all epochs... all time.