Elvin Meng, “Fragments into Voice into Fragments: Manuscript Culture and the Nineteenth-Century Manchu Curriculum”

We cordially invite you to join us on Wednesday, April 17, for the second VMPEA workshop of the quarter, taking place at our usual time at 4:45-6:45pm CT, CWAC 152. This workshop will feature:

 

Elvin Meng

PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature & EALC, UChicago

 

Discussant: Peter Kornicki

Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge

Visiting Professor, UChicago

 

Who will be presenting the paper titled:

“Fragments into Voice into Fragments:

Manuscript Culture and the Nineteenth-Century Manchu Curriculum”

 

This event will take place in-person. For participants who would like to join via Zoom, please register here. Please see the abstract and bios for this workshop below.

 

We hope to see many of you in CWAC 152!

 

 

Abstract

Drawing on a genre of Sino-Manchu manuscripts I frequently encounter in archival research, this presentation gives a preliminary sketch of the entanglements between materiality (the production, circulation, and consumption of print and manuscript texts), sociality (which can be pedagogical, bureaucratic, commercial, familial), and semiotics (translatability, orality, authenticity) in nineteenth-century Sino-Manchu language pedagogical practice. Although I will give my tentative reconstruction of the typical Manchu language curriculum in private bannered schools in late-Qing Beijing, the focus of my presentation will be on a single genre of students’ materials—collections of short, vernacular dialogues known in Manchu as meyen and in Vernacular Sinitic as huatiaozi 話條子—that young children copied, read aloud, and memorized from day to day in these schools. Certain collections of meyen were put to print throughout the Qing period, but the genre primarily circulated in the form of manuscripts, as they were constantly modified, exchanged, or written anew in classrooms, familial or friend circles, or the book market.

 

The proliferation of meyen in nineteenth-century Beijing manuscript culture, then, requires an analysis across multiple levels—material, textual, social, institutional, conceptual, etc.—that present challenges. The complication is increased by the fact that little is recorded of the historical use of meyen texts except on/as the extant meyen artifacts themselves. As I am in the early stages of thinking through this genre of manuscripts, this talk will focus on some basic but important questions: What are their typical material features? What was their place in Manchu language education, which was in effect an education in Sino-Manchu translation? What did their readers do with them? What can be known about their production and circulation? In asking these questions, I will be led to also investigate the place of meyen in the conceptual-material ecology of Manchu writing at large, as the meyen genre played an important role in the Qing politicization of the texture, voicing, and history of language itself.

 

Bio

Elvin Meng is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. His research interests include intellectual history, media theory, translation studies, and early modern Northeast Asia.

 

Peter Kornicki is emeritus professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge and currently a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Languages, Scripts and Chinese Texts in East Asia (2018), Eavesdropping on the Emperor: Interrogators and Codebreakers in Britain’s War with Japan (2021) and many other works.

Minori Egashira, “Meiji-Period Okimono and the World’s Fairs”

Please join us on Thursday, April 4, for the first VMPEA workshop of the spring quarter, taking place at 4:45-6:45pm in CWAC 152. Due to conflict with another event, this talk has been rescheduled from Wednesday to Thursday, so please note the day is different from that announced in the previous schedule. This workshop will be featuring:

 

Minori Egashira

PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

 

Who will be presenting the paper titled:

Meiji-Period Okimono and the World’s Fairs

 

For participants who would like to join us on Zoom, please register via this link. The abstract and bios for this event can be found at the end of this email.

 

~Hope to see many of you there!~

 

 

Abstract

This project investigates the ambiguous genre of Meiji-period 明治時代 (1868–1912) okimono 置物 and their locus in modern Japanese sculptural history. Explicitly, the group of objects known as okimono seems to be treated as a more formal genre of sculpture unique to Japanese art in the Euro-Americas, while in Japan the category is comparatively less distinct. This project aims to answer this discrepancy, providing a means to see what happened when the Euro-American art categories were imposed onto Japanese aesthetic creations in the late 1800s.

This portion of the project, presented at the VMPEA Workshop, investigates okimono (and okimono-like objects) through the World’s Fairs. Taking into account artworks such as The Field Museum of Natural History’s The Monk Ikkyū (1892–3) by Okioka Eizō (n.d.)., the chapter argues that the term and genre okimono became “more canonized” in America (while the opposite happened in Japan) primarily through the Centennial Exposition of 1876, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 (the three expositions held in America during the Meiji period). Objects submitted to these expositions, such as those by Morikawa Toen’s 森川杜園 (1820–1894) and Suzuki Chōkichi’s 鈴木長吉 (1848–1919), will be examined as case studies.

 

Bio

Minori Egashira is a PhD candidate studying Meiji-period (1868–1912) sculpture and Japan’s artistic interactions with the world in modern and contemporary times. She received her BA in Art History from Wake Forest University in 2014 and her MA in Japanese Humanities from Kyushu University in 2017. Her broader interests include East Asian sculptural art and other three-dimensional objects, World’s Fairs, and investigating non-orthodox narratives of Japanese Art History. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Okimono: Rethinking Modern Japanese Sculpture and Related Objects”, investigates the ambiguous genre of Meiji-period 明治時代 (1868–1912) okimono 置物 (often defined as smaller sculpture-like objects with no function) and their locus in modern Japanese sculptural history.

 

She is currently teaching a course in tandem with the “Meiji Modern: Fifty Years of New Japan” (2023–2024) exhibition, which is now on view at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art. Please visit the galleries to learn more!

VMPEA Spring 2024 Schedule

The Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA) is pleased to announce the Spring 2024 schedule. This quarter we are back on our regular meeting time, which will be selected Wednesdays from 4:45-6:45pm CT at CWAC (Cochrane-Woods Art Center) 152, unless specified otherwise.

Most events will be taking place in-person this quarter. For those who would like to join us remotely for the in-person events, we will send out the registration link in an announcement email prior to the event. For further information, please consult the VMPEA website, and please subscribe to our listserv here to receive event notifications and registration links for zoom access.

 

Spring 2024 Schedule

April 3

Minori Egashira, PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Meiji-Period Okimono and the World’s Fairs”

 

April 17

Elvin Meng, PhD Student, Comparative Literature & EALC, UChicago

Discussant: Peter Kornicki, Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge

“Fragments into Voice into Fragments:

Manuscript Culture and the Nineteenth-Century Manchu Curriculum”

 

[Co-sponsored with RAVE] April 24, *5:30pm-7:30pm*

Jenny Harris, PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Discussant: Le Lucien Sun, PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Taoist Collages: On Ray Johnson and Dance”

*With reception to follow in the lounge*

 

May 1

Sizhao Yi, PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Discussant: Yun-chen Lu, Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, DePaul University

“Objects of Interiority in Chen Hongshou’s Figurative Works”

 

[Virtual Only] May 6, *Monday*

Feng Schöneweiß, Postdoctoral Fellow, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz—Max-Planck-Institut

“Provenance, Memory, and Transculturation: Chinese Monumental Vase as ‘national wertvolles Kulturgut’ in German Cultural History, 1717–2019”

 

May 15

Reiko Tomii, Independent Art Historian and Curator

“Thinking Operationally”

 

Please contact Yan (yanj@uchicago.edu) and Alan (longino@uchicago.edu) with any questions or concerns you may have. Looking forward to seeing many of you in person!

Namiko Kunimoto, “Feminism, Bourgeois Liberalism and Shimada Yoshiko’s Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman’”

Please join us on Tuesday, February 27, for the next and last VMPEA workshop of this quarter, taking place at 4:45-6:45pm in *CWAC 156*. This workshop will be featuring:

 

Dr. Namiko Kunimoto

Associate Professor, Art History, The Ohio State University

 

Who will be presenting the paper:

“Feminism, Bourgeois Liberalism and Shimada Yoshiko’s Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman’

 

Discussant: Dr. Chelsea Foxwell

Associate Professor, Art History, UChicago

 

*Please note the room change for this workshop.* For participants who would like to join us on Zoom, please register via this link. The abstract and bios for this event can be found below.

 

Hope to see many of you in the room before the quarter ends!

 

Image: Shimada Yoshiko, Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman’ & The Tomorrow Girls Troop, Against Forgetting. Photograph by Qianwen Jiang.

 

Abstract

This paper examines work by Shimada Yoshiko, the Tomorrow Girls Troop, as well as Korean artists Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, whose work likewise addresses inter-Asian colonialism and has drawn vociferous responses from various segments of the public. Specifically, I argue that Shimada’s performance work, Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman,’ is not about revisiting a singular moment in time, but instead seeks to reveal how economic violence and social violence are ripple effects that share the same origin: specifically, a form of bourgeois liberalism that upholds patriarchy, attempts to maintain an image of societal unity, and disavows responsibility for the past.

 

Bios

Dr. Namiko Kunimoto is a specialist in modern and contemporary Japanese art, with research interests in diasporic art, gender, race, urbanization, photography, visual culture, performance art, transnationalism, and nation formation. She is the Director of the Center for Ethnic Studies at Ohio State University and Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art.

Her essays include “Olympic Labor and Displacement: Babel and Its Towers” in Review of Japanese Art and Culture, (2023), “Art in Transwar Japan” ThirdText (2022), Situating “Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman:’ Shimada Yoshiko, Bourgeois Liberalism and the Afterlives of Japanese Imperialism” Verge: Studies in Global Asia, (2022) “Tsujimura Kazuko and the Body Object” in Asia Pacific Japan Focus (2021), and “Tactics and Strategies: Chen Qiulin and the Production of Space” in Art Journal (2019). Dr. Kunimoto’s awards include a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship, Japan Foundation Fellowships (2007 and 2016), Ishibashi Foundation Fellowship (2021), a College Art Association Millard/Meiss Author Award (2017), and the Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award (2019). Her book, The Stakes of Exposure: Anxious Bodies in Postwar Japanese Art, was published in February 2017 by the University of Minnesota Press and she is currently working on her next book, Urgent Animations: Afterlives of Japanese Imperialism in Transpacific Contemporary Art.

 

Dr. Chelsea Foxwell’s scholarship ranges from the medieval through modern periods of Japanese art with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting: Kano Hōgai and the Search for Images (2015). In 2012 she co-curated the exhibition Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints with Anne Leonard at the Smart Museum of Art.

Her work focuses on Japan’s artistic interactions with the rest of East Asia and beyond, nihonga and yōga (Japanese oil painting); “export art” and the world’s fairs; practices of image circulation, exhibition, and display; and the relationship between image-making and the kabuki theater.

A member of the Committee on Japanese Studies and the Center for the Art of East Asia, she is a contributor to the Digital Scrolling Paintings and the Reading Kuzushiji projects.

Mirae kh RHEE, “Collecting Crave: Curiosity Cabinets from Saxony to Joseon”

We are very excited to invite you to the next VMPEA workshop taking place TuesdayFebruary 13, from *5-7pm* at CWAC 152. This workshop will be featuring:

 

Mirae kh RHEE

Artist-Researcher, Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum, Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

 

Who will be presenting the paper

“Collecting Crave: Curiosity Cabinets from Saxony to Joseon”

 

For those who would like to participate on Zoom, please register through this link. The abstract and bio for this presentation can be found below.

 

~We hope to see many of your faces in CWAC 152~

 

 

Image: Choi Chul Lim, Incheon Art Platform

 

Abstract

RHEE’s artistic project invites us into the long history of the collector and collections from both East Asia and Western Europe. The artist’s interest in princely collections coupled with the critical examination of European acquired ethnographic objects takes us along the historical path of Jesuit priests who landed in the Portuguese colony of Macao to journey to the Beijing court of Ming Dynasty, the site of cultural exchange with Joseon Korea in the 17th-18th century. Interrogating presentation and collection practices of the male ruling elite and examining works from collections that extend from the famed Green Vault in Dresden to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the artist fashions her own Wunderkammer. Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, arose in mid-16th century Europe as repositories for wondrous objects but gradually appeared in 17th-18th century Qing China and Joseon Korea in the form of Chinese treasure boxes (Duobaoge) and Korean still-life genre painting of books and the scholar’s room (Munbangdo). This project is not just an intervention into the European, patriarchal, and colonial collection but a reinvention of the Korean version, called Munbangdo. From this jumping off point, RHEE collects objects from her network and communities, which are presented in various forms including drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, and augmented reality, engaging in hybrid analog and digital installations. Presenting objects in forms other than the original evokes the Confucian values of austerity and humility, since Koreans did not publicly display their collectibles, preferring painted screen portrayals. New forms of representation also imagine a new aura of objecthood to rethink beyond the Walter Benjamin argument that the artifact loses its aura through reproduction, and instead offering a unique way to experience aura beyond local, national, and geopolitical boundaries.

 

Bio

South Korean born social practice artist (이미래/李未來) Mirae kh RHEE’s transracial life experiences led her to work between the United States, South Korea, and Germany, where learning foreign languages, code-switching, and cultural traditions and customs continuously inform her artwork. Through the lens of transnational feminism, she creates complex research-based Gesamtkunstwerk(e) that tell autoethnographical narratives. RHEE received her MFA in Studio Art at the University of California-Irvine, where she was a Graduate Studies Diversity Scholar and Jacob K. Javits fellow. As the current Artist-in-Residence at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum, Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, she is preparing for a solo exhibition. In 2025 the project will be on view at the Residenzschloss (Dresden Castle) as part of the Transnational Academy of the Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden. www.mirae-kh-rhee.com.

Chelsea Foxwell, “Photography/Realism/War: The Case of the First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95”

We look forward to welcoming you to the next VMPEA workshop, with a very special presentation by the department’s own and director of the Center for East Asian Studies, Professor Chelsea Foxwell.

 

Professor Foxwell will be presenting on Photography/Realism/War: The Case of the First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95.

The respondent will be Dr. Joel Snyder, Professor Emeritus on the History of Photography and Film.

 

The workshop will be held in Room 152 of the Cochrane Woods Art Center on Wednesday, February 7th from 4:45 to 6:45 PM. This will be an in-person talk.

 

Please see below the flyer, abstract, and bio for Professor Foxwell’s presentation.

And, as always, we look forward to seeing you there!

 

Abstract:
The first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) was the first Japanese war with embedded photographers to document the conflict. The crisp photographs, once they had been developed and printed in Japan, seemed to testify to what an Illustrated London News reported called the “essentially modern and business-like method” of the Japanese offensive. [1] Shortly after the war’s conclusion, the Japanese government sent a monumental hand-woven tapestry to the Aoi Matsuri (Aoi Festival) to the widow of the Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham, the American diplomat who had facilitated the treaty negotiates with Qing China. While the tapestry and the surviving corpus of war photographs might seem to represent opposite ends of the spectrum of art of the Meiji era (1868-1912), together they help us evaluate the truth claims and political agendas of late nineteenth-century Japanese art.
[1] ILN quoted in Rhiannon Paget, “Imagery of Japanese Modern Wars in the Western Media,” in Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan (St. Louis Art Museum, 2016), 57.
Bios:
Chelsea Foxwell’s scholarship ranges from the medieval through modern periods of Japanese art with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting: Kano Hōgai and the Search for Images (2015). In 2012 she co-curated the exhibition Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints with Anne Leonard at the Smart Museum of Art. Her work focuses on Japan’s artistic interactions with the rest of East Asia and beyond, nihonga and yōga (Japanese oil painting); “export art” and the world’s fairs; practices of image circulation, exhibition, and display; and the relationship between image-making and the kabuki theater. A member of the Committee on Japanese Studies and the Center for the Art of East Asia, she is a contributor to the Digital Scrolling Paintings and the Reading Kuzushiji projects.
Joel Snyder is Professor Emeritus of the History of Photography and Film in the University of Chicago’s Art History Department. Publications of his range from the essays to book publications, and interests of his include the history of photography, theory of photography and film, history and theory of perspective, Medieval and Renaissance theory of visions; critical theory, aesthetics, and the theory of representation. He was the Co-Editor of the journal Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences.

Ouyang Zhenyu, “Modern Approaches to Restoration: The Dispersed Chinese Art Digitization Project (DCADP)”

Please join us on Monday, February 5, from 4:45-6:45pm at *CWAC 157* for a special workshop of VMPEA featuring:

 

Ouyang Zhenyu

Lecturer in Fine Arts, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Xi’an Jiaotong University

 

Who will be presenting the paper

“Modern Approaches to Restoration: The Dispersed Chinese Art Digitization Project (DCADP)”

*With a reception to follow in the CWAC lounge*

 

For participants on Zoom, please register at this link (password: 000000). Please see the abstract and bio of our presenter below.

 

We hope to see many of your faces there!

 

This event is sponsored by the Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago.

 

 

Abstract

This lecture will mainly introduce the overall academic concept and research methods of the DCADP project. Through introducing the research achievements and processes of the Zhihua Temple Digital Restoration Project and the Empress Procession Restoration Project in Binyang Central Cave, Longmen Grottoes, this presentation aims to elucidate the value and role of plastic artists and digital technology in the field of art history. Taking the Empress Procession restoration project as an example, this presentation hopes to bring forward discussions on the definition and concept of “restoration” as well as some thoughts on how to accurately interpret the significance and possible application of our restoration research.

 

Bio

Ouyang Zhenyu is a lecturer in the Fine Arts Department in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Xi’an Jiaotong University. He is also advising several Master’s theses and currently a doctoral candidate in the School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering at Xi’an Jiaotong University. He is a practicing sculptor and has engaged in research on traditional Chinese plastic arts. In recent years, he primarily focuses on research related to the digital restoration and exhibition of Chinese cultural heritage dispersed overseas.

[Co-sponsored with EATRH] Rachel Silberstein, “’The Seventy-Two Kinds’: The Cloth Classic and the Jiangnan Cotton Finishing Sector”

Dear all,

 

We cordially invite you to VMPEA workshop’s first event of the winter quarter, co-sponsored with East Asia: Transregional Histories (EATRH) workshop, taking place Thursday, January 25, from 4-5:30pm CT at SSRB Tea Room (Room 201, 1126 E 59th St). This event will be featuring:

 

Dr. Rachel Silberstein

Who will be presenting the paper

“’The Seventy-Two Kinds’: The Cloth Classic and the Jiangnan Cotton Finishing Sector”

Discussant: Yin Cai

PhD Candidate, History, UChicago

 

Please note that there is a pre-circulated paper for this workshop, available here under the password “XiuMianFuRong”.

This event will be a hybrid event, and registration is necessary. If you wish to join on Zoom, please register at this link. Please see below for the abstract for Dr. Silberstein’s talk.

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Yours,

Yan & Alan

*This event is sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies with support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the United States Department of Education.

 

 

Abstract

Economic historians have asserted that Jiangnan cotton fabrics improved in quality through the Qing period, allowing those producers who focused upon styles, colors, and fashion to earn better profits and leading to numerous different options – the “seventy-two kinds”. But what techniques were used to create those styles, colors, and fashions, and to what extent did the finishing sector of the cotton industry – the dyers and the calenderers – rather than the weavers, enable this purported expansion of styles and increase in profits? The notion that coloring and finishing options expanded for the ordinary people who wore cotton cloth is an intriguing proposition in relation to several historical debates, including comparative living standards, commercialization of the cotton industry, and the history of Asian dye technologies. However, though the vast majority of Qing Chinese would have worn cotton or ramie, these claims cannot be substantiated through material culture history: the biases of collecting and material survival mean that extant cotton garments are rare and studies of Qing dress are dominated by silk.

Accordingly, The Cloth Classic (布经), an late eighteenth-century compendium of advice and experience written by a cloth merchant for cloth merchants, possesses considerable value for understanding the causes and impact of advances in cotton finishing. It contains a long and detailed section on cloth dyeing, including 68 recipes for different colors, a surprisingly large number given the assumption that societies with indigenous cotton production like China could only dye indigo blue or tannin brown due to the difficulties of dyeing cellulosic cottons, unlike proteinaceous silks and woolens. This paper analyzes the dyeing and calendering content of The Cloth Classic within the context of developments in the Qing period Jiangnan cotton industry. By evaluating four factors that potentially drove the expansion of the finishing sector: technical innovations, dyestuff trade, commercial organization, and consumer demand, I use this commercial text to redress the unrepresentative material archive, to verify the existence of the “seventy-two kinds,” and to provide insights into the economic and cultural significance of the Jiangnan dyeing and calendering workshops.

VMPEA Winter 2024 Schedule

The Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA) is pleased to share with you the Winter 2024 schedule. The workshop times for this quarter are slightly more irregular compared to the past, please refer to the information below for specific time and location of each event.

All events will be taking place in-person this quarter. Some events will have the option to join remotely, and we will send out the registration link in an announcement email prior to the event. For further information, please consult the VMPEA website, and please subscribe to our listserv here to receive event notifications and registration link for zoom access.

Winter 2024 Updated Schedule

January 25, Thursday

Rachel Silberstein, Lecturer, Berkeley Extension School, University of California, Berkeley

“‘The Seventy-Two Kinds’: The Cloth Classic and the Jiangnan Cotton Finishing Sector”

Discussant: Yin Cai, PhD Candidate, History, UChicago

Tea Room (201) in SSRB (1126 E 59th St), 4-5:40pm

*This event is co-sponsored with East Asia Trans-regional History workshop (EATRH).

*This event is also sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies with support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the United States Department of Education.

February 5, Monday

Ouyang Zhenyu, Lecturer, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China

“On Dispersed Chinese Art Digitization Project (DCADP)”

CWAC 157 (Cochrane-Woods Art Center), 4:45-6:45pm

*This event is sponsored by the Center for the Art of East Asia

February 7, Wednesday

Chelsea Foxwell, Associate Professor, Art History, UChicago

“Photography/Realism/War: The Case of the First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95”

Discussant: TBD

CWAC 152, 4:45-6:45pm

February 13, Tuesday

Mirae kh RHEE, Artist-in-Residence, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin

“Collecting Crave: Curiosity Cabinets from Saxony to Joseon”

CWAC 1525-7pm

February 27, Tuesday

Namiko Kunimoto, Associate Professor, Art History, The Ohio State University

“Feminism, Bourgeois Liberalism and Shimada Yoshiko’s Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman’

Discussant: Chelsea Foxwell, Associate Professor, Art History, UChicago

CWAC 152, 4:45-6:45pm

Please contact Yan (yanj@uchicago.edu) and Alan (longino@uchicago.edu) with any questions or concerns you may have. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sijia Huo, “The Materiality and Spatial Context of the Tiantang Colossal Buddha Statue in Luoyang in the Late 7th Century”

Dear all,

 

We are excited to announce our fifth and last workshop of the fall quarter, taking place Wednesday, November 29, from 4:45-6:45pm CT at CWAC 152. This event will be featuring:

 

Sijia Huo

Visiting PhD Candidate, UChicago

National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University

 

Who will be presenting on:

“The Materiality and Spatial Context of the Tiantang Colossal Buddha Statue in Luoyang in the Late 7th Century”

 

Discussant: Wei-Cheng Lin

Associate Professor of Art History and the College, UChicago

For those who are joining on Zoom, please register at this link (password: 000000). Please see below for the abstract and bio for Sijia’s presentation.

 

Let’s finish the quarter strong and we ~Hope to see you there!~

 

Yours,

Alan & Yan

Image: Archaeological fieldwork at the central pit of Tiantang in the 1970s

 

Abstract

Not long before Wu Zetian officially ascended the throne, a magnificent building called “Tiantang” was built in the Palatine City of Luoyang, in which a colossal Buddha statue was placed. This colossus existed for only a few years before being completely destroyed by a fire. Although there are some relative historical records and archaeological evidence, it is still a challenge to depict such an object that could no longer be accessed physically. One of the most thorough previous historical studies is from Antonino Forte. After scrutinizing the text resources in detail, he proposed that the “Tiantang” was an essential part of the “Mingtang” complex, and explained its significance as a Buddhist utopia. At the time he was conducting his research, the archaeological report on the site of “Tiantang” had not yet been published. With great respect to Forte’s extraordinary work, this paper will focus on the materiality and spatial context to further explore the various details during the construction process of the colossal statue and the architecture. I contend that the colossal hollow dry lacquer statue was made in parts, and then assembled in Tiantang with the support from the central pillar structure. In this way, the designer of Tiantang succeeded in integrating a colossal Buddha statue with a great tower. By examining the relationship of Tiantang, Wucheng Hall and Mingtang, it can be concluded that Wu Zetian created a completely new ruling space for herself. On the basis of these analysis, we may expect to clarify the differences between the discourse presented in historical records and the practice of making the statue and surrounding complex.

 

Bio

Sijia Huo is a PhD candidate of National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University. Her research interests include Buddhist art and stone inscriptions in medieval China. She is working on her PhD dissertation about colossal Buddha statues in the Tang Dynasty.

Wei-Cheng Lin teaches in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. He specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture with a focus on medieval periods. His primary interests of research are visual and material cultural issues in Buddhist art and architecture and China’s funerary practice through history. He is the author of Building a Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, published by the University of Washington Press in 2014. He has additionally published on a variety of topics, including collecting history, photography and architecture, historiography of Chinese architectural history, and contemporary Chinese art.