News & Projects

February 22, 2021
August 19, 2020

Disorder Gallery is excited to present Enrico Soekarno’s Red/Sid - Disorder.

Since 1985, Latvian/Indonesian artist Enrico Soekarno has had exhibitions of paintings, drawings, etchings and photographs, and participated in various multimedia performances in Asia, Europe and Australia. He is also a book illustrator and graphic designer.

After many amazing journeys and involvement with unique artistic projects to help raise awareness of issues all over the world, he has recently returned to Australia. This is Enrico’s first exhibition in Sydney in 30 years.

You can meet Enrico and chat with him about the stories behind his amazingly intricate artworks during any of our "Meet the Artist” events below.

Saturday August 15th 2-4pm Saturday August 22nd 2-4pm Saturday August 29th 2-4pm

D/O.41 Red/Sid - Disorder will be available to preview on Wednesday August 12th from 12-5pm and will be on display through Saturday August 29th at Disorder Gallery.

May 26, 2010

Many Faiths, One Truth (by His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

NY Times 5/25/10

WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.

Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.

An early eye-opener for me was my meeting with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton in India shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions.

A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.

I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us.

Take Judaism, for instance. I first visited a synagogue in Cochin, India, in 1965, and have met with many rabbis over the years. I remember vividly the rabbi in the Netherlands who told me about the Holocaust with such intensity that we were both in tears. And I’ve learned how the Talmud and the Bible repeat the theme of compassion, as in the passage in Leviticus that admonishes, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In my many encounters with Hindu scholars in India, I’ve come to see the centrality of selfless compassion in Hinduism too — as expressed, for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita, which praises those who “delight in the welfare of all beings.” I’m moved by the ways this value has been expressed in the life of great beings like Mahatma Gandhi, or the lesser-known Baba Amte, who founded a leper colony not far from a Tibetan settlement in Maharashtra State in India. There he fed and sheltered lepers who were otherwise shunned. When I received my Nobel Peace Prize, I made a donation to his colony.

Compassion is equally important in Islam — and recognizing that has become crucial in the years since Sept. 11, especially in answering those who paint Islam as a militant faith. On the first anniversary of 9/11, I spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, pleading that we not blindly follow the lead of some in the news media and let the violent acts of a few individuals define an entire religion.

Let me tell you about the Islam I know. Tibet has had an Islamic community for around 400 years, although my richest contacts with Islam have been in India, which has the world’s second-largest Muslim population. An imam in Ladakh once told me that a true Muslim should love and respect all of Allah’s creatures. And in my understanding, Islam enshrines compassion as a core spiritual principle, reflected in the very name of God, the “Compassionate and Merciful,” that appears at the beginning of virtually each chapter of the Koran.

Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.

Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the author, most recently, of “Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together.”

January 27, 2010

Reincarnation sutra retold (By Claude Arpi, The Pioneer, January 27, 2010)

Beijing is becoming increasingly nervous. The fact that China is today a recognised world power (the Middle Kingdom has become the second largest economy and the largest exporter) may lead you to conclude that the leadership in Beijing lives in peace with itself, enjoying its newly-acknowledged position.

But that would be a wrong conclusion. For, despite their status, the Politburo members in the walled-enclave of Zhongnanhai are trembling. As in the famous Asterix comic books, some indomitable tribes continue to refuse the rule of the most powerful empire of its time. Though the tiny Armorican village could not be captured by the Roman Empire because the villagers managed to acquire invincible strength by drinking a magic potion brewed by their druid, in this case the tribe does not use magic potion, but non-violence.

The Empire does not really know how to strike back. A meeting of the all-powerful Politburo of the CCP was held on January 8 to deal exclusively with the situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which represents about a third of historical Tibet. China’s President Hu Jintao, who between 1988 and 1992 was posted as CCP’s Tibet party secretary, spoke during the meeting of two objectives: “To seek a breakthrough in (economic) development and maintain long-term stability.”

Mr Hu said that the Chinese Government would help Tibet in four ways: Boosting investment, transferring technology, and sending in more qualified officials as well as “experts and talents”. The new motto suggested by the Chinese President is “going down the road of development with Chinese characteristics and Tibetan flavour”.

Unfortunately, this will not apply when it comes to the Lamas’ most sacred institutions: The reincarnation tradition. “Keeping a living Buddha under control means keeping a temple under control, and keeping a temple under control means keeping a district under control.” These words, conveniently put in the mouth of an unknown supporter of the ‘separatist Dalai group’, appeared in The People’s Daily on January 7. In fact, this is what the CCP realised a long time ago.

The People’s Daily article, headlined “Dalai Lama’s reincarnation tale indicative of separatism”, is most offensive and reflects great nervousness on Beijing’s part. The People’s Daily has argued that a few months back the Dalai Lama had declared he could very well be reincarnated in the form of a woman. Beijing says that this is “an eye-popping thing to say”.

Several years ago, I had the occasion to ask the Dalai Lama to elaborate on this point. He had then explained: “In Tibet, the tradition of having reincarnated teachers is almost 700 years old. Among them, we had one instance of a female reincarnation. In case a female Dalai Lama is more useful to Tibet in future, then why not have a woman as ‘reincarnation’? If a Tibetan female Dalai Lama comes, every male will become her follower!”

He had gone on to add, “I feel that education alone cannot solve all our contemporary problems. More emphasis should be given on ‘compassion’. Women are basically more sensitive and compassionate. But men are not. They are more aggressive”.

The Tibetans consider the Dalai Lama to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and Patron Saint of Tibet. His ‘job’, as the present Dalai Lama puts it, is to make sure that the Buddhist tradition flourishes in the Land of Snows.

Beijing has now reacted violently (and belatedly) to the idea of a female Dalai Lama. “A living reincarnation, reincarnated as a girl or a bronze-haired foreigner… all these absurd arguments by the 14th Dalai Lama on his reincarnation have made people in the Tibetan Buddhist circle feel furious,” says the People’s Daily.

The daily, which truthfully reflects the thinking of the Communist Party of China, which has apparently gained great expertise in the Buddha Dharma, argues, “According to the basic teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, (the Dalai Lama) ‘may be a woman’ is simply an outrageous remark.” It then adds: “In the eyes of many Tibetan Buddhists, it is a blasphemy.”

What a sexist remark! Did not Buddha ordain his own mother? But one cannot expect the Communists in Beijing to have read the sutras.

A couple of years ago, the Chinese Government had announced new ‘Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism’. Beijing has clearly been preparing for the Dalai Lama’s departure (and return); the ‘measures’ targeted the Tibetan leader. If Karl Marx could read some of the 14 articles of the ‘measures’, he would be turning in his grave.

The ‘measures’ describe in great detail how “reincarnating living Buddhas should carry out application and approval procedures”. The Chinese Government threatened: “No group or individual may without authorisation carry out any activities related to searching for or recognising reincarnating living Buddha soul children.” The Communist Party of China, which has always treated religion as ‘poison’, has suddenly become an authority on the centuries-old tradition of ‘reincarnation’.

The People’s Daily refers to the ‘measures’ to state that “the reincarnation of Living Buddha shall not be interfered or dominated by any organisation or individual abroad”. It is another way of saying that the Dalai Lama has no business in deciding his own reincarnation.

In Tibet, the lineage system has never been rigid. For example, during the 13-14th century, the hierarchs of Sakya monastery ruled over the Land of Snows. Their succession was set up by way of ‘transmission’ from father to son or uncle to nephew. Further, historians believe that at the beginning of the 17th century, two Dalai Lamas were alive at the same time (the Sixth and the Seventh). There was no fixed place about where a Dalai Lama could be reborn. The Fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso was born in Mongolia while the Sixth, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in India (in Tawang district of today’s Arunachal Pradesh).

Through Tibet’s history, the interregnum between two Dalai Lamas has been a weakness of the reincarnation system. The 19th century saw a succession of five Dalai Lamas. The Chinese, through their Ambans (or Ambassadors) in Lhasa, made full use of this weakness. Many surmise that the premature deaths of the Ninth up to the Twelfth Dalai Lamas were not a mere coincidence and the Chinese Ambans certainly took great advantage of their ‘timely departure’. It is clear that the problem is not only a spiritual issue, but also a political one and this explains the meddling of the Chinese Communists in what seems at first sight to be a religious affair.

January 1, 2010

Apple Censors Dalai Lama IPhone Apps in China

Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service

Apple appears to have blocked iPhone applications related to the Dalai Lama in its China App Store, making it the latest U.S. technology company to censor its services in China.

Those apps, which appear in most countries' versions of the App Store, do not currently appear in the Chinese version.

Another app related to Rebiya Kadeer, who like the Dalai Lama is an exiled minority leader reviled by China's authorities, is unavailable in the China App Store as well. The apparent censorship comes after carrier China Unicom launched iPhone sales two months ago, making regulatory approval of the phone's contents in the country necessary for the first time.

"We continue to comply with local laws," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said in an e-mail when asked about the missing apps. "Not all apps are available in every country" At least five iPhone apps related to the Dalai Lama are unavailable in the China store.

Some of those apps -- named Dalai Quotes, Dalai Lama Quotes and Dalai Lama Prayerwheel -- display inspirational quotes from the Tibetan spiritual leader. Another, Paging Dalai Lama, tells users where he is currently teaching. A fifth app, Nobel Laureates, contains information about Nobel Prize winners including the Dalai Lama.

Test searches done on four out of five iPhones displayed at the Apple Store in Beijing this month returned no results for the term "Dalai." The apps also did not appear for searches done with a computer on iTunes after switching the country selection in the program to China. One of the iPhones at the Apple Store did display the Dalai Lama apps, though it was unclear why.

Chinese officials condemn the Dalai Lama as a dangerous "splittist" seeking to separate Tibet from China, and have called him a "devil with a human face." The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an uprising in the capital city of Lhasa, solidifying Chinese control there. The religious figure remains widely revered by Tibetans.

Kadeer, an exiled leader of China's Uighur minority group, gets similar treatment by Chinese officials and state media. An iPhone app named 10 Conditions, based on a documentary about her life, also did not appear in test searches of the App Store in China.

Apple lets developers choose in which countries' versions of the App Store to sell their products, but it is unlikely that the Kadeer and Dalai Lama apps are unavailable in China by the choice of their makers. The app about Kadeer was submitted to the App Stores in all countries, James Boldiston, the app's developer, said in an e-mail. Other developers said they could not recall if they had excluded China, but most had other apps for sale in the China store, showing that in other cases they had included the country.

"Given that Apple has cooperated with China before (by not distributing games), it's of course very likely that it's Apple, not the developers, that are preventing certain apps from appearing," said one China-based app developer, who asked not to be named, in an e-mail. Games were not sold in the China App Store before recent months.

Boldiston and other developers of the missing items said Apple had not told them their apps were unavailable in China. "I didn't know the app had been pulled, and wasn't informed," said James Sugrue, who designed the Dalai Quotes app. "Apple reserve[s] the right to do this sort of thing, and while from a censorship point of view I disagree with this, I can understand why they did," he said.

Apple joins other U.S. technology giants including Yahoo and Google that have come under fire for complying with Chinese government demands on sensitive political issues. Human rights advocates criticized Yahoo when Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, landed a 10-year prison sentence in 2005 partly because of e-mail evidence gained from his private Yahoo account. Yahoo said it was obeying Chinese law by handing the evidence to authorities.

Google has been criticized for offering a censored version of its search engine for China at Google.cn, which blocks pornographic and some politically sensitive search results. Google has similarly said it must follow local laws and regulations.

Chinese authorities previously took aim at Apple last year during the Beijing Olympics, when the U.S. iTunes Music Store was blocked in China after it started selling a new collection of songs about Tibet. The U.S. iTunes Music Store and App Store are both currently accessible from Beijing.

The Chinese iPhone also appears to be subject to the country's set of Internet controls known by critics as the "Great Firewall." Searching the App Store for "Falun Gong," the name of a spiritual sect banned in China as a cult, caused iPhones in the Beijing Apple Store to display a results loading screen indefinitely, though no Falun Gong apps appear to be offered in any countries. In contrast, searches for other terms quickly returned a results page. Other iPhone apps that might be seen as sensitive by Chinese authorities are still offered in the China App Store. Apps that, for instance, show YouTube videos or let users update their Twitter accounts remain available even though YouTube and Twitter are blocked on the Internet in China.