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David Scheinbaum, Varanasi: City Immersed in Prayer
David Scheinbaum, Varanasi: City Immersed in Prayer

Thu, Jan 19


Collected Works Bookstore

David Scheinbaum, Varanasi: City Immersed in Prayer

An unforgettable portrayal of India's holiest city. Photographer David Scheinbaum will be in conversation with Stuart Ashman, Cultural Ambassador and co-owner with his wife Peggy Gaustad of Artes de Cuba Gallery

Date, Time & Location

Jan 19, 2023, 6:00 PM MST

Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

About the Event

This will be an in-store presentation and we will also live stream the evening on Zoom, please register to watch here.

Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Banaras, is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C.E. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the "City of Light" draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River's sacred waters for prayer and ritual. In Varanasi, one is in some sort of time warp where one is living in history as if time has never stopped, where both residents and pilgrims, continue their daily practices and worship in ways relatively unchanged for millennia, a continuum of thousands of years. Being in Varanasi is like being on a thread pulled from a cloth that dates back to the beginning of time. Here, one doesn't "see" a ruin, as one does in other ancient civilizations, but discovers a living city where history hasn't stopped.

David Scheinbaum guides us, with his camera, through the city's winding streets that are filled with thousands of shrines and temples at virtually every turn. He takes us on an incredible visual journey to the Ganges, the sacred river where bathers are in prayer, and to the funerary Ghats, steps that lead down to the river where cremations take place, filling the air with incense and burning pyres. Hindus believe that being cremated along the banks of the holy Ganges allows one to break the cycle of death and rebirth and attain Moksha (salvation), making it a major center for pilgrimages.

David Scheinbaum's beautiful, soulful photographs present an ancient, holy city immersed in prayer. And contributions by Diana L. Eck and BJ Miller, noted scholars and writers, shed light on the special qualities that make Varanasi the holy city it has always been, including the powerful embrace of life and death.

About the Author

David Scheinbaum is former Director/Chair of the Photography Department in the Marion Center for Photographic Arts at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and Professor Emeritus at the College of Santa Fe. He is the author of Bisti (University of New Mexico Press, 1987), Miami Beach: Photographs of an American Dream (Florida International University Press, 1990), Stone: A Substantial Witness (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2006), and Hip Hop: Portraits of an Urban Hymn (Damiani Editore, 2012). He and his wife, Janet Russek, have collaborated on three other projects: Ghost Ranch: Land of Light, Photographs by David Scheinbaum and Janet Russek (Balcony Press, 1997), Images in the Heavens, Patterns on the Earth: The I Ching (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2005), and Remnants: Photographs of the Lower East Side (Radius Books, 2017). Together they operate Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd., fine-art photography dealers and consultants in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

About the Contributors

BJ Miller is an American physician, author, educator, and practicing hospice and palliative medicine physician who is well known for his 2015 TED Talk, "What Really Matters at the End of Life?" He has taught at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, since 2007. In film, BJ is the subject of Netflix's Academy Award-nominated short documentary, End Game, by veteran directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. His book for approaching the end of life, A Beginner's Guide to the End, was co-authored with Shoshana Berger (Simon and Schuster, 2019).

Diana L. Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society at Harvard University. She is the author of Banaras: City of Light (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India (Anima Books, 1981), and India: A Sacred Geography (Harmony Books, 2012). As the founder and director of the Pluralism Project, she produced the Web-based resource On Common Ground: World Religions in America. On the subject of pluralism, she has written Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras (Beacon Press, 1993) and A New Religious America: How a "Christian" Country Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation (Harper San Francisco, 2001). In 1998, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton for her work on religious pluralism in America.

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