A few weeks ago I was invited to the home of a long time Tantric friend of mine, who has followed a lifetime interest in visual art.
The occasion was to show the work of a photographer friend of his.
His place is large and a few rooms are set up as galleries and are devoted to his picture collection.
On this occasion he and the photographer had invited many people for the viewing, to enjoy the collection, wine and cheese etc.
He wanted to combine his interest in the visual arts with his interest in Tantra, which he felt had the potential to bring his collection to ‘life’.
Although he’d borrowed his idea from other, unconnected showings, his attempt to use live Tantric representations to compliment the static paintings and photography, did add a strong and erotic element to the show.
He had recruited some volunteers – Tantric practitioners of his acquaintance, artist models and performers – to be on couches, mats, chairs etc. which were placed in the rooms (there are 3 rooms dedicated to his collection) at convenient and inconvenient places. It was not really possible to stand and view a picture without making contact with one or other piece of furniture or ‘volunteer’.
The volunteers were of all genders and naked. They’d been encouraged to use their bodies to attract attention and to place themselves in forms and poses that might reflect the subject matter of the picture(s) they were close to.
Some moved around the rooms from time to time, finding new places to settle.
The collection is entirely representative of erotic art and combined well with the live naked bodies. In accord with Tantric principles, sexuality and arousal was encouraged and was there for the pleasure of all.
This was an experiment in Performance Art and it matched so well with the ideas of Tantric encounter that I was prompted to make this post on the subject of Tantra, Performance Art and visual stimulation and awareness.
When we think of Tantra, we begin a journey of the mind.
We begin to imagine and anticipate ideas that can suddenly flood into our head. Images of erotic touch, sensual scenes, mutual massage, fantastic fantasy…..
And then, if we allow ourselves enough time and mental freedom, we begin to think whether we could actually make a reality of a fantasy. How would it be? What are the possibilities?
And this is exactly where Tantra can take us – to a place of fantastic reality.
If the pictures were fantasy, the live bodies were a reality, the two elements combined to create a unique energy and electricity – fantastic fantasy.
Tantric energy is not limited simply to sensual physical touch. It also admits the potential and force of all senses, combined with the power of imagination.
There can be no more potent a combination of sensual and sexual potential.
Tantric practice, when properly considered, is an ideal channel to explore fantasy, and not necessarily always in a massage environment – fantastic as that usually is.
How can this be?
Enjoyment of sexuality and sensuality begins with the engagement of imagination. We often ‘short circuit’ the potential of our mind and jump too quickly from the thought in our head to its physical conclusion. We don’t stop to ‘smell the roses’.
There was certainly no shortage of ‘imagination’ around the wine & cheese at my friend’s event!
Tantric practice can take us on a journey, the destination of which can turn out to be much more exciting than the fast track conclusion.
Tantra will often complete the fantasy and anticipation of the mind.
To understand more clearly maybe it is useful to think of Tantric experience as a form of art. That was the idea at the gallery.
All art is the product of imagination. The original visual artist, writer, composer or performer seeks to convey a vision, experience or feeling to the world as vividly, effectively and uniquely as possible.
And there has to be a medium through which such art can be presented and understood – a canvass, a book, a band, a stage etc. And that medium has to represent a language common to its anticipated audience.
The art form represented will always seek to communicate and actively engage and involve its audience. It’s this engagement that Tantra can often facilitate.
The cliché that ‘sex sells’ has always been true, but although this represents a crude thought, there’s more to the idea.
Sexual and sensual imagery ‘sells’ or draws attention because it is perhaps the most powerful human motivating force. So we find the ‘sexy’ image attached to entirely ‘non-sexy’ thoughts and products, used, in a quest for attention.
Having caught our attention we’re encouraged to look past the interesting ‘sexy wrapping’ into the boring content.
In Tantra we’re not so easily moved on or manipulated.
We see that the ‘wrapping’ has a value in itself. That it can often be considered the more valuable and interesting ‘product’.
We can think that this must be true because the attracting sensual image is what has actually fired the imagination. It’s an intangible energy that is more real than the mundane product that it was used to promote.
Tantra recognizes this phenomena and understands that, as in art, there is the beginning of an exchange of energy – a communication between the audience and the artist – in this case between the natural energy of a sexual image or thought and the beholder and understanding of that thought.
To the extent that Tantric practice seeks to raise consciousness, just as any art form does, then we can define Tantra as a form of art. It’s a means of communication and also a message in itself.
That is a rare but powerful combination.
We can see it clearly in erotic visual art. We can understand it in erotic literature and we can sometimes experience it in performance art, but the opportunities to enjoy performance art are often particularly limited, albeit performance art represents one of the most powerful and entertaining mediums known to us.
Certainly erotic stage, movie and visual mediums can provide powerful images and ideas, but the opportunity for ‘real time’ interaction between performer/writer/artist and audience is generally limited. There are notable exceptions, of course, which recognize that it is the energy of interaction that can deliver the most powerful artistic message or experience.
Tantra is a practice that is able to recognize and accept the sexual and erotic energy of the human mind and consciously seek to include its energy in all aspects of life. Tantric performance art is simply an extension of erotic visual art, allowing the audience the opportunity to interact more closely with the artist.
Tantric performance art brings theatre and visual art closer to its audience.
While an erotic picture may trigger sensual images, a live nude may deliver the message even more strikingly. That is where Tantric experience begins to become particularly relevant.
There’s no question that this concept was confirmed and enjoyed by many at my friend’s house.
In talking to some of the volunteers all were able and entirely comfortable to provide their visual image not only for the pleasure of the audience and the compliment to the art, but also for their own heightened state of awareness.
It was an experience that was interactively enjoyed by both the watchers and the watched.
So, where you can develop and enjoy visual stimulation, please do so knowing that it can play a very useful part in Tantric practice.
Soon I’ll post some other observations on this theme which may add some further real opportunities to visual fantasies.
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