Sustainable Buddhas Made of Cardboard

“Butsu Hall with Buddha”, by Yuji Honbori. (all images courtesy the artist)

LOS ANGELES —Travel around East and Southeast Asia enough and you’ll invariably come across at least one big Buddha. Cut from stone or marble or any other substantive material, they dominate the room with their presence.

Clicking through Spoon & Tamago recently, I came across the work of Kobe-based sculptor Yuji Honbori. The artist makes stunning Buddha installations out of cardboard material on its way to the dumpster:

Honbori has always been interested in recycled materials, but not in a devotional way. He got his start making large-scale sculptures out of wood from demolished houses. But it wasn’t until 8 years ago when he was working with wood from a demolished temple that he got the idea. And since then he’s been fascinated with how one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.

“Butsu” (2011)

It got me thinking about Zhang Huan’s famous Berlin Buddha, composed entirely of ash and designed to fall apart as more and more visitors pass through:

This aluminium sculpture is the first component of Berlin Buddha. The second component is an ash Buddha made by casting dry ash to the interior of the aluminium sculpture. These two sculptures will be installed facing each other. As time goes by, the environment will affect the work, as the floor will tremble with movement, ash Buddha will also change and fall into piece.

It’s interesting to think about how art is moving toward repurposing materials rather than using new ones. The image of the Buddha, whose teachings often hinge on the idea of impermanence, is a fitting one for exploring materials that once belonged to something else and are being transformed into another.

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