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Erik Bergrin – The 8 Dissolutions

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    At the end of one’s life, the body and mind go through 8 different stages, according to Buddhist philosophy. The first 4 stages are connected with an element and a sense perception shutting down. For example, the first dissolution is the disappearing of the earth element. The body becomes heavier, you are unable to move your arms, and your sight starts to go. The second is the dissolving of the water element. The fluids of the body dry up, accompanied by loss of hearing. The third dissolution is associated with fire and smell and the 4th with air and taste. After the 5 senses and 4 elements are gone, the next phase of the process is about a slow realization into emptiness. There is a visualization meditation you can do to take you through this process. This work was made during my covid quarantine period. Seeing all of the morgue trucks, knowing people who died, the protests, the president, riots, it caused me to want to create a body of work that would force me to go deep and learn to appreciate everything
    around me. I practiced the 8 Dissolutions meditation repeatedly in order to visualize the textures of the pieces.

    For me, each dissolution is also associated with a sound, and a mudra, (or hand gesture.) I noticed while practicing the meditation, my hands always went into a certain position. The mudras were photographed and printed on fabric and made into dresses which hung behind each sculpture piece during the exhibition.

    Along with the concept, the materials also are part of the theme RARE. I grew and developed a lot of the textiles in the pieces. Some of the materials include a leather like textile from kombucha scobies that I spent a year growing, a textile derived from sodium alginate seaweed, melted bismuth to crystalize charms, embedded handmade drums into the bodies, grew crystals all over areas of pieces, hammered aluminum, fabric that came from compressed bark trees, and fiber techniques such as coiling, felting, and weaving.

    My artwork is all about confronting shadows buried in my subconscious. By doing this act, I can turn these shadows into physical objects, and face them in a tangible form, in order to change them. The 8 DIssolutions meditation is a way to bring up these shadows. Studying Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and having a background in fiber art, and costume design, I combine all of these to do this introspective investigation.

    Production Credits

    The 8 Dissolutions was first shown at The Morris Museum – NJ, USA

    All Wearable Pieces/concept – Erik Bergrin
    Video Director/Photos – Arkan Zakharov
    Makeup and Face Pieces – Andrew D’Angelo
    Hair – William Schaedler
    Butoh Dancer/Mudra Teacher – Yokko


    Clinton Duncan – Dissolution 1
    Maahleek – Dissolutions 2 and 6
    Joshua Mima – Dissolutions 3 and 7
    Lydia Varcoe-Wolfson – Dissolution 4 and 5
    cccindiiii – Dissolution 8