Brooklyn Public Library Exhibits Smita Sen’s Installation Responding to the American Healthcare System and Aesthetics of Care
'The Manipura Sanctum' at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch on view January 24 – April 23, 2022
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) today announced the installation of multidisciplinary artist and wellness worker Smita Sen’s powerful artwork dedicated to caregivers of all styles, Manipura Sanctum, to be exhibited at the Library’s Central Branch January 24 – April 23, 2022. Influenced by her own difficult experiences navigating the healthcare system and her book Manipura: Of Flowers and Bones, Sen created Manipura Sanctum to be a space to accommodate healing, communion, and meditation. The installation and surrounding programming, including a performance by Trina Basu and poetry workshop with danilo machado, create a unique opportunity for Brooklynites to meaningfully engage and examine the state of contemporary caregiving.
The centerpiece of Manipura Sanctum, composed of an altarpiece with a cascade of metal bowls, references vernaculars of sacred architecture and healing and offers a space of respite and connection in the Library’s Grand Lobby, including seating. In the front lobby cases, sculptures giving shape to stories of care are on display, as well as broadsheets of Sen’s artist book, Manipura: Of Flowers & Bones. Within the sanctum visitors are invited to share their stories and experiences while communing about the realities of community-driven healthcare, symmetries of dependency and support, and how we hold each other up. As we enter the third year of a pandemic that has profoundly impacted communities across the globe, including every neighborhood in Brooklyn, Sen boldly asks through this work what healthcare could look like when it is reimagined as an act of mutuality and empathy, shared between both the patient and provider.
Manipura Sanctum, which builds upon work Sen initially developed at Brooklyn-based artist workspace Recess, as part of its Session program, extends well beyond the physical space of the installation and is accompanied by creative programming with participating guest facilitators, healers, and artists. Sen will host a conversation with medical caregiver Khushmit Kaur and cultural worker Ezra Benus at the Library. For more up-to-date information on the current programming calendar, please visit https://www.bklynlibrary.org/exhibitions/smita-sen-manipura.
Through this stunning and unique installation and complementary programming, BPL continues to expand on what a library can and should be to a community,” said László Jakab Orsós, Vice President of Arts and Culture of Brooklyn Public Library. “Manipura Sanctum fulfills BPL’s mission to offer all Brooklynites the opportunity to both experience and engage with the most creative minds working today, to gain new perspectives on healthcare, healing, and empathy, ultimately finding much needed solace surrounded by books.”
About Smita Sen
Smita Sen is an artist working with sculpture, dance-based performance, and advanced technology to research how the body internalizes its environment and significant life events. With installations, Sen attempts to reimagine sites of care and creates environments for the body to enter states of meditative healing. Sen’s work has been shown at venues like Bard College, Flux Factory, Anthology Film Archives, the Knockdown Center, and ISSUE Project Room. Sen was a fellow at the Mildred’s Lane residency (2018) and received the Instigator Fellowship from NYU ITP Camp (2018). She has served as a Visiting Artist at the Bard College Disturbance Lab and has given talks and workshops at Columbia University, Bard College, NYU ITP Camp, and LRLX NY. Sen is a graduate of Columbia University. An educator, she is currently teaching and designing the Emerging Media program at Choate Rosemary Hall.
Photo by Ally Caple.