Organized Panel Session
Contemporary Tibetan artists living in Lhasa and abroad often comment on the dilemma of geographical displacement from their homeland. In 2006, the Peaceful Wind Gallery held the Lhasa Train exhibition, which provided a platform for Lhasa artists to show works reflecting their thoughts on the Qinghai-Lhasa railway’s opening. As the first railway track to connect central Tibet to inland China, the train allowed a more rapid influx of Chinese goods and influences into historically Tibetan areas. Moreover, it allowed for rapid growth of domestic and international tourism in central Tibet, especially Lhasa. This paper examines Dedron’s Train, Nortse’s 0067, No. 1, Gade’s Railway Train, Tsering Nyandak’s Pissing on the Train in the context of other works produced for the same exhibition. The four artists’ works reflect the hybridity of cultures and artistic influences that contemporary Lhasa artists have mastered to produce works that uniquely reflect the contentions, contradictions, and confluences encountered in their everyday lives. While Tibetan artists working in exile (in New York, Dharamsala, and Colorado) have focused on their physical displacement from their homelands, these specific works by Lhasa artists reflect what I have termed “displaced in place”—the idea of their experienced cultural and economic displacement while still physically situated in their homelands. Through layered and riotous imagery, the four Lhasa artists operate in a space of ambiguity and misdirection to avoid and confound would-be censors.