Space Buddha, „…the many are one, all is one and the same…”
9 September 2009 – 9 October 2009

'I like it when the same idea appears in various types of media. Thus, the role of the material and technique degrades and the idea is emphasized', writes Henrik Martin, who has been dealing with a single topic for years, the seemingly commonplace, well-known Buddha representation, that receives a new meaning through personal experience.

The first Buddhist sculptures represented scenes from the wordly life of Buddha. Two types of the Buddha portrayals are known, one of which represents the master giving his speeches in a loose gown while stretching out his blessing arms – this sculptural style spread due to the conquests of Alexander the Great. The other type is the Buddha sitting with his legs crossed – this one is of Indian origin. Henrik Martin was inspired by the zen buddhist writings and artworks when creating the meditating figure in zazen position, and started to study the body position on himself as well. At present, he is in an intermediate phase of a long-term creating process.

Several Spacebuddha works were made:, Spacebuddha, statuette, concrete; encaustic paintings; prints; miniature woodcarvings. These led him to the resolution to examine the shape of the human body in this position, and made nude studies for the Spacebuddha:

'Two realizable ways opened for me. The first one was to draw figure studies. The second one was to create a plaster cast of myself. I chose the first one, but once the drawings were finished, I decided to make the plaster cast as well, because it can give a more objective view.The drawing series:I drew my nude charcoal series with the help of two mirrors from thirty-two standpoints. I had to spend a lot of time drawing, so I looked for a position in half-lotus sitting that I can keep. This body position can be seen on the drawings.Z.m.f., animated film, 1’03”, 2009The drawings offered themselves to become motion pictures. They give the illusion of a drawn sculpture when they are placed one after the other in the appropriate order.The Plaster cast:I made the plaster cast in order to use it as a model for the sculpturing. I needed someone to help creating the negative of my body. My brother assisted me.Zazen in shell, video, 4’42”, 2009Video documentation of a one-time action.The idea of the video came to me during the making of the negative pieces. The last piece was of the face. I was completely covered with plaster, my only connection to the outside world was the straw in my nostril. The most important thing became the continuous examination and control of the breathing. Concentrating on breathing, the motionless body and the isolation from the outside world resulted in an inner observation. The sounds of the body, the heartbeats, the hum of the veins, the breathing, intensified. I calmed down, forgot my fears and felt happiness and peace. This meditative experience determined the creation of this work significantly.' Henrik Martin

The title of the exhibition comes from the poem Mondolat by Miklós Erdély, that was performed in a sitting position. In Erdély's legacy there is a traditionally moulded terracotta sitting Buddha sculpture, registered as his own work.)

Through the unique shape of the sitting Buddha, Henrik Martin re-thinks a thousand-year-old tradition and transfers it to the space era, as well as revives the practice and sacred meaning of performance. By recording this performance, he makes it possible to infinitely repeat and re-live the process.

'Our whole being participates in the work. The action spans through our bodies, making a dynamic bridge between the working process and the activated nervous paths. In the so-called ego, there is a pause at this point, its majority gets transferred into the relation system of the work and the body, it's woven onto the network of effects and reactions. It vibrates and changes its place in the hiatus that can be deepened by working on the boundary of the forces called subject and object. (Quick to act, this state can be identified with its physical forms, as the inner speech also reaches a different level – it slows down or even halts. Not more than one or two words emerge around the cursor of the mind, while the predominant, dumb spaces and their subordinate members do their part.) Action and theory does not work at the same time. One after the other, at best. The somewhat freely shaped rhythm of their changes establishes the changes of point of view, necessary to reaching the basic facts of life, the shifts of the days and nights of perception. The facing of time passing unnoticed or pausing.' Tilmann J. A.Source: In one of his writings, Duchamp calls the urinal the Buddha of the bathroom, and if turned around, its shape resembles a sitting Buddha indeed. The era-defining, dadaist act of Duchamp – the exhibition and sanctification of an everyday object marked the lack of the sacred in the everyday life. Henrik Martin does the same to a direct symbol, and participates with his whole being in the action, not without (self-)irony, when publishing the Buddha-figure on a public internet site ( as a Spacebuddha surviving the life on Earth and floating freely, in a space suit with oxygen.

Brigitta Muladiart historian