domenico de clario | beyond tonglen: in the garden of yes

21 september – 5 october 2019 




live performance by domenico de clario and mindy meng wang 

from 6:15 pm 21 september on MARS rooftop 



In early 2015 Ross Lake and Helen Vivian began to transform a 8-acre vineyard at the back of their property in Irymple (near mildura in northwestern victoria) into a fully reticulated native garden containing hundreds of species of native grasses, shrubs and trees. This transformation included the addition of hundreds of tons of organic material to the native soil, the laying put of an intricate series of gravel pathways crisscrossing the garden and the establishment of a lake, fed by filtered water and designed to become the home of many species of water bird life. The name of this unique creation is the Sky Garden.


Domenico de Clario moved from Melbourne to Mildura in early 2015 seeking to experience first hand both the vastness of the continent that extended from the banks of the Murray River deep into its interior and the complexity of its consequent post-colonial cultural layering.


The burial of his possessions in the soil of the country he had migrated to as a child had been an aspect of his artistic practice since the mid-1970’s when he began to include such processes in his contributions to both the Mildura Sculpture Triennials and Sculpturescapes (1971, 1975 and 1978) and to other site-specific installations and performances.


Part of the reason for de Clario’s move to the country’s interior had been motivated by his search for a burial site to accommodate both the artist’s possession (including many of the components he had included in his installations since the 1970’s) and those of his family.


At the invitation of Lake and Vivian, who offered de Clario a corner of their Sky Garden for such a project, he began from the autumn equinox of 2016 (march 21) until the autumn equinox of 2018 (march 21) to carefully place all of his belongings (furniture, books and magazines, paintings, domestic objects, clothing, industrial components, two automobiles and a trailer, children’s toys and various other domestic detritus) inside a burial site twenty metres long, ten metres wide and five metres deep.


This ritual was regularly defined in time through performances presented at each equinox and solstice that occurred over the two-year period and ended at the march equinox in 2018 when the site was covered over by a mound atop which seven trees were planted, each distinguished by its seasonal flowering reproducing the seven colours of the spectrum.


This coloured flowering signaled the ongoing life of the invisible body below the surface (encompassed by the artist and his family’s possessions) nurturing visible life manifesting above the surface and under the sky.


This project was titled tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist term describing the meditative, cyclic breathing in of distress (both ours and others’) and the consequent breathing out of ease.


beyond tonglen, the artist’s project to be presented at Mars Gallery in September this year, consists of a series of plein air blindfolded paintings made in the vastness of the Sky Garden and the specificity of the tonglen burial site.


This painting project then manifests as an expression of being, not of doing, and is practiced as a mindful searching for the moment when a certain kind of blindness finally becomes sightedness.


Domenico de Clario


June 2019

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