Tell it to the Medicine Buddha. You’ll find him at the center of the upcoming “Bodies in Balance” exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art. At the height of cold and flu season, this wind-about, interactive art exhibit will take a look at Tibetan Medicine, which classifies ailments as bile-, phlegm- or wind-based (how season-appropriate).
As part of the interactive exhibit, the Rubin wants to get up close and personal with you. Museumgoers will begin their exploration by answering a few playfully probing questions as to the current status of their bowel movements, emotional state and how your tongue is doing.
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Based on the responses, their “diagnosis” will direct them to a color-coded path (relating to bile, phlegm and wind) through a cavern of touchscreens and streaming video. You’ll scramble through a fascinating array of more than 140 objects, including medical instruments (I know — cool, right?), manuscripts and paintings dating as far back as the 9th century.
One of the paintings on display depicts a Tree of Diagnosis, which had color-coded segments based on the types of maladies (you guessed it — bile-, phlegm- or wind-based) one was suffering.
The Tibetan science of medicine is based on foundations put forth in a treatise called the Four Tantras. At its core is a method of healing and living based on a philosophy of behavior (formed by one’s diet, emotional well-being and personal actions). Tibetan doctors of the lore-steeped Hilmalayas still refer to the text today when practicing their art of healing.
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Did I mention the mock urinalysis you will have the option to take part in? Taking that interactive component one step further, teeny Dixie-style cups will be on hand in the restrooms for those who want to experience what a typical urinalysis comprises (uh, yep, it’s basically peeing in a cup). Urine tests were and still are routinely used as a signal of how the body’s doing health-wise. Well, maybe the kids will delight in that.
Curators Elena Pakhoutova and Theesia Hoffer remind us that healing hearts and bodies is indeed an art — one the Western world could certainly benefit from. There will be a curator-led talk at the museum on March 21 at 7 p.m. for $15.
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street (Between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10011