Client: Yoga Sutra
Location: Phildelphia, USA
Completion date: 2009
Artwork budget: $10,000
Yoga Sutra is a school that offers a variety of yoga practices and training. The artwork constructed of two – ten foot by four foot steel plates incised with a sutra repeated over 400 times is the backdrop for the foyer and the dividing screen between it and the dressing area.
Much of the architecture of India makes use of carved screens to filter light and create subtle degrees of privacy and enclosure. We wanted to create a contemporary equivalent using water jet technology that easily cuts through even the 1/8" thick steel. It is a technology suited to repetition- much as the sutras gain their significance through chanted repetition. We were interested in this integration of the yoga practice with the artwork as well. Just as yoga plays with the experience of absence and presence, we used the voids of the letters to cast the script of the sutras in light in the dressing room, while the entry side of the screen remains quite dark.
GANSstudio was both the designer and the artist for this commission. We were guided by the lead yoga instructor, Christopher Hildebrandt who is also a Sanskrit scholar, in the concept and choice of the sutra. Daniel Bailey of Hard Decor is a wonderful steelworker and collaborator. The screen is hung from the ceiling rather than supported on the shelves below- which was a trick- so that if you tap on it, it makes a sound like a gong.
We wished we had saved the solid letters cut from the steel. We had large piles of jumbled sutras on the floor at one point--but maintenance cleaned swept up too fast before we could save them.