This sculpture is a life-scale bronze casting of artist and cultural engineer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s arm. Its title refers to the artist and mystic Brion Gysin’s remark to Breyer P-Orridge that “true wisdom can only be passed on by the touching of hands.” This quote appears on the accompanying plaque. Visitors are invited to shake hands with the casting, revealing the power of touch.
The sculpture recalls the form of some medieval Christian reliquaries, fashioned as arms, hands, feet, or heads to hold the bones of saints。 In our contemporary moment, Breyer P-Orridge’s work is a reminder of the importance of direct transmission and contact。 S/he intends for the bronze to wear down over time through visitors’ touch, a cumulative reminder of the life of the object。 This erosion also recalls the wear through devotional touch and ritual usage seen in many of the historical bronze sculptures in the Rubin Museum’s collection。
Breyer P-Orridge has been traveling to and working in Nepal for more than thirty years, and h/er engagement with critical philosophical and spiritual aspects of Himalayan cultures spans even longer. Touching of Hands is an example of how a lifelong examination of ritual and devotional practice focused on experimentation and investigations of the body intersects with avant-garde culture and thought originating in the Himalayas.
Touching of Hands is on view in Shrine Room Projects: Shiva Ahmadi / Genesis Breyer P-Orridge / Tsherin Sherpa.