Tibetan Prayer Memorial

Designers: Adrian Doidge

Tutor: Jason Grant

Subject: Typo 3

Date: 1 Oct, 2013

When I began this project, there had been 86 auto cremations of Tibetans protesting the occupation and colonisation of the Tibetan region. With each self-immolation there is a continual plea for the return of the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese government have vilified since his exile in 1959. With each self sacrifice, there has been a call for the liberation and freedom of Tibetans from Chinese oppression, and their right to practice their unique cultural heritage. With each passing moment, these sacrifices are increasing with intensity while the Chinese government stubbornly refuse to accept responsibility for a poor diplomatic approach. While here in Australia we seem to support such action by refusing to acknowledge or report on the voices of the fallen. The question is, how can such a radical form of communication go unheard and be so misunderstood for so long?

We in the west have experienced little of this radical form of protest which is emanating from the normally peaceful Tibetan people. The intensity and passion of selflessness has not quite been able to make an audience of us. It has thus become my goal and ambition to generate a project which both educates the community about what is happening in Tibet, while at the same time respectfully honouring those who have given their lives.

This typographic mapping project went through many transformations as I processed highly complex and sensitive information into the traditional Tibetan prayer flag format. Traditionally the flag contains prayers derived from various Buddhist scriptures and sutras, which have been blended with images of traditional Tibetan shamanic spirits (called Bon-po) and the Buddha in the centre (although there are various forms).

This prayer is for the brave individual who has given their life for the betterment of their community and culture, rather than to the Buddha. The Tibetan numeral (here the ordinal number of the immolation) has been ceremoniously scorched using gunpowder, removing the printed letterform entirely to create a communicative absence which relates literally to the real life causes and events, but also carries with it the symbolism of a strong and unified culture being destroyed by modern colonisation. What remains of these beautiful letterforms has then been stitched together, much like the remaining information about these protestors, so that the viewer may make some sense of it all.

The main body of type clearly communicates the known information about each individual. What was their life like? What were their last moments? Why did they immolate? Lastly, at the base of each flag lays the name of the individual, returning to them their identity, the place that they chose to communicate their feelings through immolation, and the date which they chose to do it.

Hand drawn Tibetan Script, Optima, Chaparral Pro

Thanks to:
Jason Grant, Richard Fraser