Transcending Tibet: 30 Tibetan and non-Tibetan artists exploring Tibetan Identity today.

Over the last two decades Trace Foundation has been working with Tibetan communities on the plateau, supporting continuity and development of Tibetan culture, language, art and preservation of Tibetan heritage. After traveling in Tibet, and struck by the challenges faced by the local communities, Andrea E. Soros founded Trace Foundation to support Tibetan people and culture in Western China. Since it’s inception, Trace has touched thousands of lives on the plateau through its humanitarian, educational and development works.

Celebrating it’s 20th year Trace holds several landmark events including, Lens on Tibet, a film series held at MoMA featuring works of Tibetan filmmakers exclusively from inside Tibet. Many of the filmmakers featured in the program were former scholarship winners of Trace’s education program that enabled them to study film. Most notably, filmmaker Pema Tseden and Sonthar Gyal, who studied at the Beijing Film Academy under this program, has proven themselves as exceptional filmmakers and have exhibited their works in many important film festivals around the world.

So far Trace has provided about 5000 scholarships to support undergraduate and postgraduate training for young Tibetans from the plateau.

Ending April 12, Transcending Tibet: Celebrating Contemporary Tibetan Art, is a group show featuring specially commissioned works by 30 Tibetan and non Tibetan artists exploring Tibetan Identity today. Some of the featured artists from inside Tibet are Nortse, Benchung, Jamsang, Gade, Tsering Nyandak, and also featured are works by exile artists Gonkar Gyatso, Tenzing Rigdol, Trulku Jamyang, Tashi Norbu, Rabkar Wangchuk, Tenzin Phakmo, and many more.

Gade, Let’s Sing that Song

Many of the works by the different artists follow a similar theme in Tibetan contemporary art focusing on the clash of modernity and tradition; Buddha and Mickey Mouse in one frame but nonetheless these are stunning and colorful pieces.

Benchung, Meditator Beware, 1 of 3

Some of these works have subtle yet more profound socio-political messages including this one by Benchung, Meditator Beware, a self-portrait of the artist tied from the knee to his back by a piece of cloth that looks like a monk’s robe. Scribbled on the wall behind, you see names of a few radical Tibetan writers from exile, Ai Wei Wei, Phayul, a website for Tibetan news from exile, Facebook, google, etc.

Although the exhibition has stayed clear of any outright political messaging in these commissioned works, it is hard not to notice the urge from the artists to make a point in many of these works. On one wall sits quietly, a piece by artist Tenzing Rigdol. A portrait of a faceless Buddha, the face covered in flames of fire, possibly hinting at the 140+ self-immolation protests that has taken place in TIbet in the recent years.

The show features many lesser-known artists too including some breathtaking calligraphy by Phuntsok Tsering, a Tibetan artist from Germany. In one collaboration, Jewellery designer Nathalie Jean with Rudy Prampolini has taken inspiration from Tsering’s artwork and created a silver necklace with the calligraphy titled “Light Offering”. For this show, 25 Internationally renowned designers including Italian brand, Costume National, have created fashion items inspired by some of the artworks. Some of these designer wears and artworks are on sale at their online auction here to support the foundation’s work.

Light Offering, Phuntsok Tsering, Nathalie Jean with Rudy Prampolini


The show runs from March 14 to April 12 2015 at the Rogue Space Chelsea 508 W 26th Street, 9E-F New York, NY 10001

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Tibetan film to premiere at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival


This year at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival Tibetan filmmaker Sonthar Gyal will premiere his new film Gtsngbo (River) in the section Generation Kplus. Sonthar Gyal, a contemporary of Tibetan director Pema Tseden also hails from Amdo. Formerly a traditional thangka painter, he studied at the Beijing Film Academy. He worked as a cinematographer on several of Pema Tseden’s films including Old Dog(2011). Director Sonthar Gyal’s debut feature The Sun Beaten Path(2011) competed at the The 64th Locarno Film Festival in 2011.

Generation is one of the long running sub-sections of the Berlin International Film Festival focusing on films that speaks to cinematic works that are thematically and aesthetically linked to the experiences of children and young people. The program encloses outstanding children’s and youth films as well as films for all target audiences that are also suitable for young people. Established in 1978, Belinale devotes this competition section to children and youth. Along with adult jurors, the festival will also have Children jury consisting of  eleven 12-14 year old kids from Berlin. The highest award in this category will be € 7,500 endowment for the best feature film.

Gtsngbo (River)

The day her father drunkenly crashes his motorbike is when young Yangchan begins to realise that something is wrong with him. In her village on the Tibetan steppe people cannot understand why he does not go and visit her sick grandfather. The old man lives in a cave; he went there to meditate, and is regarded as a holy man. Everyone has been on a pilgrimage to see him. Except her dad, who stubbornly refuses. For this reason people consider him a bad person and the boys in the village make sure that Yangchan knows it. Her mum is pregnant with the next child and just wants some peace but her dad has his reasons for his irreconcilable stance. The family moves their tent to pastures further afield, but the conflict pursues them. Yangchan thinks that nobody understands her. And she does not like the way her mum’s belly is swelling either. She finds love and affection in the shape of an orphaned lamb that she tenderly takes care of and raises. But their problems remain unsolved. A moving story – told entirely from the girl’s point of view – about her father’s deep emotional wound that reignites after many years and pushes the whole family to the edge of a precipice.

Tibet (People’s Republic of China) 2015, 94 min, Tibetan, Director: Sonthar Gyal Cast: Yangchan Lhamo Regzin Drolma Guru Tsedan Kheydrup

Screening Dates in Berlin

  • Wed Feb 11 15:30 Zoo Palast 1 (E)
  • Thu Feb 12 13:30 Haus der Kulturen der Welt (E)
  • Sun Feb 15 14:00 CinemaxX 3 (E)

Tibetan Director Pema Tseden wins co-production deal at the 19th Busan International Film Festival


Tibetan director Pema Tseden’s new film project “The Killer” is among the 9 out of 30 projects that were awarded the Asian Project Market (APM) prizes at the 19th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. The award titled “Heyi Film & Youku Tudou Award” is sponsored by Chinese company Youkou Tudou who will invest $30,000 in this project.

Director Pema Tseden known for films like, Old Dog, The Search and the Silent Holy Stone is also featured in A Window to Asian Cinema section of this year’s Busan International Film Festival with his Shanghai prize winner, The Sacred Arrow.

The Sacred Arrow – This film is a tale of friendship and love of Tibetans through the thousand-year-old archery tradition. According to Amdo legend, Damo and Lhalong villages hold an annual archery competition that determines which village keeps The Sacred Arrow for one year. Dradon of the Lhalong village is enraged when he unfortunately loses by a head to Nyima of the Damo village. Overcome with jealousy and a sense of inferiority, Dradon realizes Nyima is in love with his younger sister and continues to interfere. Then one day, a local Tibetan government-sponsored International Archery Competition is held, and there Dradon and Nyima meet once again. The Tibetans pure and genuine friendship and love unravels against the breathtaking Tibetan highlands. (KANG Naeyoung, BIFF)