An interview with
Position & Affiliation: Anthropologist, curator and author; previously at University of Zurich and Rubin Museum of Art, NYC; nowadays independent curator
Date: March 28, 2019 in Bern, Switzerland
Interviewed by: Anna Sehnalova
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Oral History of Tibetan Studies project.
- 0:00 Intro
- 0:34 Origin, Family, Childhood, and Upbringing
- 01:51 What started your interest in Tibet?
- 3:11 Interest in Tibetan Art and first exhibition
- 13:39 Seminar of Young Tibetologists in 1977 in Zurich
- 16:51 How did you get the idea? Why did you think it was important to organize such an event?
- 17:40 How did you find out about the people you invited and their addresses?
- 20:58 Would you remember what was the atmosphere at this meeting?
- 22:01 How did it continue?
- 25:59 How do you remember Ladakh at the time?
- 27:10 How do you remember India when you came as a student to Delhi?
- 30:24 Why did you decide to study medicine in the first place?
- 35:34 When did you help organize Tibetan camps in Switzerland?
- 40:00 How do you remember Nepal from that time?
- 43:01 Could we go back to your studies in Delhi?
- 46:00 Where did you go after?
- 48:03 What was so impressive about Lama Govinda?
- 54:02 First Kalachakra in Switzerland
- 1:00:28 Why did you find the visual part of a culture so interesting?
- 1:01:40 Have you yourself actively engaged in art?
- 1:10:35 Film-making in the 1970s
- 1:13:43 Why would you say it is important to present a culture to another culture?
- 1:16:39 What do you see as the role of museums in this process?
- 1:20:31 How would say the approach to Tibetan culture and Tibetan objects in museums has changed throughout your life?
- 1:23:46 What did you like about being a curator?
- 1:27:30 You started in the ethnographic museum in Zurich and both at university, so, how did it work?
- 1:47:39 How did you get the idea to organize this exhibition about the Dalai Lamas?
- 1:50:37 Could you say something about your work in the Rubin Museum?
- 1:56:01 Was it different making exhibitions for audiences in Europe and in America?
- 1:57:53 Could you say what you consider special or unusual about Tibetan art?
- 2:03:40 Do you have a favourite exhibition from those that you have done?
- 2:17:18 Do you have a favorite object that you have worked with?
- 2:26:51 How have you learned Tibetan or how were you learning?
- 2:31:56 Have you ever worked in Tibet?
- 2:34:18 How do you remember Tibet in the 1980s?
- 2:37:56 Could you say something about your studies in anthropology in Zurich?
- 2:41:21 What about the development of Tibetan Studies in Switzerland?
- 2:45:15 You said you took a partial break from academia and university by working with development aid. Could you say something about that please?
- 2:51:04 What were the practical impacts of your work?
- 2:58:54 What has your career given to you personally? How has it changed your life?
- 3:02:42 What did you find the most interesting and challenging in your work?
- 3:08:45 What are the things you would still like to pursue?
- 3:10:24 What do you consider your most significant contributions and why?
- 3:13:04 As we are conducting this project for contemporary and future generations, would you have a message for them?
2014: Bill Viola: Passions (with Kathleen Bühler), Kunstmuseum Bern/Cathedral of Berne
2014: Kosmos – Weltentwürfe im Vergleich (with Albert Lutz et al.), Museum Rietberg Zürich/Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess AG, Zürich, ISBN 978–3‑85881–451‑7
2011: Quentin Roosevelt’s China – Ancestral Realms of the Naxi (with Christine Mathieu and Cindy Ho), Rubin Museum of Art, New York / Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart
2010: Grain of Emptiness – Buddhism-inspired contemporary art (with Mary Jane Jacob) Rubin Museum of Art, New York, ISBN 978–0‑9772131–9‑1
2009: Mandala – Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism (with Helen Abbott) Arnoldsche /Rubin Museum of Art, Stuttgart/New York, ISBN 978–3‑89790–305‑0
2005: The Virtual Mandala – The Tibetan Book of the Dead/ Das tibetische Totenbuch (with Claudio Dal Pra), Art Adventures, Zürich, ISBN 3–9522726‑7–1 (part 1), ISBN 978–3‑9522726–8‑8 (part 2)
2005: Die Dalai Lamas – Tibets Reinkarnationen des Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart,ISBN 3–89790–219–2
2005: The Dalai Lamas – A Visual History, Serindia, Publications, Chicago, ISBN 1–932476–22–9
2005: Les Dalaï-Lamas – Les 14 réincarnations du bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Favre, Lausanne, ISBN 2–8289–0840–2
2004: Mandala – Cercle sacré du bouddhisme tibétain, Favre, Lausanne, ISBN 2–8289–0772–4
2004: Dreamworld Tibet – Western Illusions, Weatherhill, Trumbull, ISBN 083‑4805–464
2003: Bambus im alten Japan / Bamboo in Old Japan, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart, (with Patrizia Jirka-Schmitz) ISBN 3–89790–190–0
2002: Peter Aufschnaiter’s Eight Years in Tibet, Orchid Press, Bangkok, ISBN 974–524–012–5
2000: Traumwelt Tibet – Westliche Trugbilder, Haupt, Bern-Stuttgart-Wien, ISBN 3–258–05639–0
2000: Deities of Tibetan Buddhism – The Zürich Paintings of the Icons Worthwhile to See (with Martin Willson), Wisdom Publications, Boston, ISBN 0–86171–098–3
1999: Mandala – Il cercio sacro del buddhismo tibetano, Sovera editore, ISBN 88–8124–074–2
1998: Mandala – Posvatny kruh tibetského buddhismu, Volvox Globator, Praha, ISBN 80–7207–145–9
1998: De Mandala – De heilige cirkel van het Tibetaans boeddhisme, Asoka, ISBN 90 5670 021 9
1997: The Mandala – Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism, Shambhala, Boston, ISBN 1–57062–296–5
1994: Irgendwo in Bhutan – Wo Frauen (fast immer) das Sagen haben, Verlag im Waldgut, Frauenfeld, ISBN 3 7294 0202 1
1992: Das Mandala: Der Heilige Kreis im tantrischen Buddhismus, DuMont, Köln, ISBN 3–7701–2509–6
1993: Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalaya (with Charles Ramble), Ethnologische Schriften Zürich, ESZ 12, Ethnological Museum of the University of Zurich, ISBN 3–909105–24–6
1984: Nepal – Leben und Überleben, Ethnologische Schriften Zürich, ESZ 2, Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
1983: Peter Aufschnaiter – Sein Leben in Tibet, Steiger Verlag, Innsbruck, ISBN 3–85423–016–8
1982: Junge Tibeter in der Schweiz – Studien zum Prozess kultureller Identifikation (with Detlef Kantowsky), Verlag Rüegger, Diessenhofen, ISBN 3 7253 0169 7
1982: Fremden-Bilder, Ethnologische Schriften Zürich, ESZ 1, Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
1980: Feste in Ladakh, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz, ISBN 3–201–01122–3
1978: Tibetan Studies, presented at the International Seminar of Young Tibetologists (with Per Kværne), Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
1974: Heinrich Harrer’s Impressionen aus Tibet, Pinguin Verlag, Innsbruck
1969: Tibetische Kunst, Tibeta 69, Bern