Shaolin: Temple of Zen: The Aperture Foundation
Otis College of Art and Design
Shaolin: Temple of Zen is an exhibition and publication that documents, for the first time in history, the exceptionally private warrior monks of the fifteen-hundred-year-old Shaolin Temple in the Henan province of China, renowned for its association with Zen Buddhism and martial arts. Comprising of 99 pieces, including 6 video installations, Shaolin: Temple of Zen brings to light the secretive society of the Chinese Buddhist sect dedicated to preserving a form of kung fu known as the “vehicle of Zen.” Revealing the monks’ devotional disciplines and capturing insightful portraits of the venerated warriors, the works offer an exclusive opportunity to explore the energy and spirit of Shaolin’s unique practice.
Guariglia’s work explores the nature of ‘qi’ (pronounced chee), the concept of a universal energy, as well as the themes of ritual, spirituality, and Eastern philosophies through still photography and video. Carmen Winant of Philadelphia Weekly asserts that “the imagery simultaneously seethes with energy and casts a meditative silence. It evokes both the ancient and the contemporary.”
A student in China in the mid 90’s, Guariglia took an interest in Daoist and Buddhist philosophies, spending eight years studying the mystery behind the Shaolin art form, which is recognized primarily through pop culture films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He earned the trust of the Shaolin monks to create a compassionate record of the art form and those who are the keepers of these traditions. Notably, Guariglia’s publication features a foreword written by the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, Shi Yong Xin.