Although most religions have inspired a variety of art, Buddhism seems to have a special relationship with the arts. Something about the endless circle of birth and rebirth seems to intrigue the minds of artists. Of course even if the art is not directly related to Buddhism, the Buddha has always been a fan of art. The Buddha has been quoted several times speaking about art, and most of his sayings are truly profound:
"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser." -The Buddha
"What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind." -The Buddha
The beauty of the Buddha's words are not even lost on Myself, extremely distant from any place that the Buddha would ever have set foot in by thousands of miles, and two oceans. It is very easy to see that the Buddha was a friend to artists, both those who worked with traditional media and those of us who chose to pursue more contemporary forms of expression. Namely, street art and Graffiti.
I also like to think that the Buddha, who was so keen on using stories to spread his philosophy as a way to avoid getting caught by the oppressive authorities, would approve of this underground propaganda system. I would like to think that the Buddha would also approve of street art that expresses the needs of a Buddhist country in turmoil, its people caught in the middle of one of the longest and bloodiest civil wars ever.
The smallish country is wedged between the east end of India and west end of Thailand. It is predominately Buddhist (89%), and the culture (and art) is irreversibly intertwined with its religion. The Burmese struggle and civil war has been ignored by the mainstream western media for an obscene amount of time, brushed to the side in a world that couldn't care less about this small nation. However, this civil war, and the roles that Buddhism and street art play in it, are planned to be captured by a small indie film studio sometime next year.
Breadtruck Films is currently in the beginning stages of making a documentary that discusses the role of graffiti in the Burmese civil war. The film is titled "Art As A Weapon" and is the San Diego based studio's biggest project to date. The director, Jeffery Durkin, plans to fly out to Burma at some point next year to start shooting—IF the project gets funded in time. The film currently has a page up on Kickstarter and need more donations if it has any chance of being made.
The main focus of the film will be around street art and the role it plays in the political spectrum, especially around topics of religion. The film is being backed by Shepard Fairey, who designed most of the art for the projects promotion. Mr. Fairey has also featured it on his blog, where he stresses the need for such a documentary.
"Art As A Weapon" still needs funding, and there is very little time left. Any contribution helps and the link to the Kickstarter page can be found below. It's a great way to support film, and raise awareness about an important subject that most of the Western world has turned a blind eye towards.