This artwork aims to make known a form of Esoteric Buddhism also known as Tantric/Vajrayana Buddhism. The yab-yum bronze icons of Tantric Buddhism often strike the layman as hedonistic celebrations of eroticism but are in fact meditational devices a Tantric worshipper uses. In this project titled The Sex Mudra Paradox, we tackle a paradoxical theme of religion & sex.
Due to the influence of sexual stereotypes and sexually suggestive content portrayed in mass media today, viewers of these objects may misinterpret the work and overlook the religious aspect of such artwork. This was also a reason that the Vajradhara and Prajnaparamita at the Asian Civilizations Museum particularly caught our attention with its non-conventional posture of a Buddha and a deity.
We feel the need to educate non-practitioners of the religion of its actual meaning as the imagery is often misunderstood and sexualized. The key meaning behind the union of a male and female in this yab-yum position aims to convey non-duality. However, when taken too literally, it conveys the exact opposite. The distortion of meaning has made it important to search for ways to represent this idea more accurately and less misleadingly.
We have designed a motion graphics poster be projected along the common walkway of our school. Flaps are placed over the censored parts of the image, which contains a description slip to explain what they see. The visually striking image of the yab-yum seeks to attract students to take a closer look and interact with these flaps. They are also invited to take pictures and post on social media with the hashtag #itstotallynotsex
Through this sort of larger scale projection and interactivity, it ultimately aims to capture as many viewers’ attention, interact with the flaps and fix the misinterpretation of non-tantra practitioners.
First draft: Val
First draft edit: Tiffany
Second draft: Val