East meets West at Festival AccesAsie

Posted on May 11th, 2011 by .

AccèsAsie celebrates the 16th edition of Asian Heritage Month. The Festival offers events ranging from energetic – break dancers – to meditative – monks and mandalas.. The Festival ends with the dismantling of a beautiful coloured sand mandala, which has been carefully constructed over four days by six Tibetan monks.

But first I want to tell you about the art. At the launch, Chinese artist Nie Jian Bing showed his celebrity portraits of Lady Gaga, Andy Warhol and others, including appropriated images such as the Vermeer’s famed Girl with a Pearl Earring. On each of these, Bing adds calligraphy and acupuncture points. Using clichés from East (acupuncture dots and calligraphy) and West (today’s fascination with stars) he fuses the two cultures in his larger-than-life-size faces. His work is shown alongside Quebec painter Michel Beaucage, whose dynamic colourful canvases was a perfect balance to the more cerebral and quiet Bing faces. The show is definitely worth a visit. (Check below for the address.)

AccèsAsie also offers a series of fun events for the whole family. Below, we have listed them by date. Without a doubt, the must-see is the sand mandala, part of the Festival’s Sacred Arts section. Tibetan monks dressed in traditional costumes will carefully craft a sand mandala – and then destroy it. I learnt that ‘mandala’ is the Sanskrit word for circle – which is what a mandala is:  concentric and repetitive circles, made with different colours of fine sand. I also learnt that all the circles and their intricate designs are created to focus the mind, helping us forget day-to-day cares. This famous ceremony symbolizes immortality.  Normally, the sand from a dismantled mandala is thrown into a river. However, during Accès Asie, it will be given as a gift to remember the moment. The monks are renowned for their chanting, which is a special guttural tone that is rhythmic and meditative.  I love to listen as it takes me away from the concrete hustle.


Friday May 13

GULLIVER’S TRAVELS – 8:00 p.m. ($15) [At Oboro, 4001 Berri, Metro: Sherbrooke]

Presentation by Helen Yung of a much-loved story using new technology.

HIP HOP DANCING – Between 3 – 7 p.m.  (FREE) [At Ex Centris, 3540 St. Laurent, Metro: St. Laurent]

With Michel Lim, Erich ‘‘Ddimplz’’ Jack, and Sandy ‘‘Did’’ Be Tard. Also traditional Iranian dances and music.

Friday May 20, Saturday May 21 &  Sunday May 22

MONTREAL / SEOUL / TOKYO. – Fri + Sat: 7:30 p.m. Sun: 4:00 p.m. ($18) [At Tangente, 850 Cherrier Metro: Sherbrooke]

Contemporary dance, with Maki Morishita, Park Yung-Cool Pack and In Jung-Ju.


[website ALL EVENTS AT: Le Gesu, 1200 Bleury (Metro: Place des Arts) 514 -861-4036]

Thursday May 26

SACRED ARTS EVENT OPENING – 1:30 – 8 p.m.  ($20 for the day)

Opening ceremony, discussion led by the Tibetan monks and a Jesuit priest from Montreal. Recitation of sacred texts accompanied by wind and percussion instruments.

Friday May 27

SONGS OF THE TIBETAN MONKS  1:30 – 2:30 ($7.00)

MANDALA GUIDED TOUR  5:00 – 7 p.m.    ($7.00)

Saturday May 28

SAND MANDALA WORKSHOPS 2:30- 7:00 p.m.  ($10)

*Space limited. See site below for prices and registration

Sunday May 29


2 – 4:00 p.m. Guided tour of the mandala  ($7)

4 – 5:30 p.m.  Songs and question period  ($10)

6 – 7:30 p.m. Closing ceremony  ($10)

Please check website for different price options including seniors and families.

Until June 12, 2011

Art Show:  ZISHI [465 Mont Royal East, Metro: Mont Royal]

Tuesday to Thursday: 1 – 7 p.m.

Friday to Sunday:  1 – 5 p.m.

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