NEW PALTZ – Producer/director and Tibetan musicologist Ngawang Choephel will introduce and screen his award-winning documentary, “Tibet in Song,” at the Rosendale Theatre in Rosendale N.Y. on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. The presentation concludes The Dorsky’s “Tibetan Arts Week,” a series of public programs and discussions with leading artists and scholars, presented in conjunction with The Dorsky Museum’s current exhibition, “Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art” (through Dec. 15). Admission is free with a $5 suggested donation.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, among many other awards, “Tibet in Song” tells the story of a Tibetan native who fled his country of origin at the age of two in 1968 and returns home to capture the music of his people before it is lost to time and history. The beauty of traditional Tibetan folk music is showcased through a variety of working songs, songs about family, and songs of the beauty of the land. These rarely seen performances are deftly juxtaposed against startling footage of the early days of the Chinese invasion and a concise explanation of the factors leading to the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile in 1959. Ngawang Choephel uses folk music as a lens to explore the Chinese impact on Tibetans and Tibetan culture.
The film tells a harrowing tale. Choephel, while filming in Tibet in 1995, was arrested on charges of espionage by Chinese authorities. Sentenced to 18 years in prison, Choephel attracted devoted followers around the world in addition to major coverage from celebrities and the media. Annie Lennox personally delivered a petition to the Chinese embassy in London, emphasizing how Choephel risked his life in order to record the footage he filmed on the last trip to his homeland. “This was a particularly poignant and harrowing case because Choephel had been given an incredibly harsh sentence for merely going back to his homeland as a Fulbright scholar to record the songs and dances of his own culture,” Lennox said. Choephel served nearly seven years before his highly publicized release in 2002. While imprisoned, he continued to collect Tibetan folk songs from fellow inmates.
“Tibet in Song” is Ngawang Choephel’s story, but it also gives voice to the thousands of Tibetans engaged in the fight for the life of their cultural heritage. Voices never before captured on film dare to speak out against Chinese policies in the name of artistic freedom.
“Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art” is an exhibition featuring over 50 works of painting, sculpture, installation, and video art by 27 artists living in Tibet and in diaspora that explores the tension between an ancient culture’s unbroken artistic tradition and the personality-driven world of contemporary art. The Friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and the State University of New York at New Paltz provide ongoing support for The Dorsky’s exhibitions and programs. Additional support for “Anonymous” public education programs has been provided by The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, located at SUNY New Paltz, is fast gaining wide recognition as the premier public showplace for exhibition, education, and cultural scholarship about the Hudson Valley region’s art and artists from yesterday and today. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, the Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums within the SUNY system. The Dorsky was officially dedicated on Oct. 20, 2001. Since then it has presented over one hundred exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of Hudson Valley artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, and Carolee Schneemann, and international artists that include Seydou Keita and Ushio Shinohara.
For more information about The Dorsky Museum and its programs, call (845) 257-3844 or visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum.