April 27, Namiko Kunimoto

Thursday, April 27, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Figuration and Dissent

Namiko Kunimoto

Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art, Ohio State University

Katsura Yuki, Gonbe and Crow, 1966

This presentation examines the work of Katsura Yuki (1913-1991), a Tokyo-based painter and assemblage artist. Katsura enacted political resistance by representing contentious issues such as self-sacrifice in times of war, the United States Castle Bravo nuclear test, the representation of gay lovers, and the status of women in Japan. This presentation will focus specifically on her paintings from the 1930s-1960s, as well as her illustrations of the James Baldwin novel, Another Country, that were featured in the Asahi Journal in the 1960s. Katsura’s body of work evaded the overdetermined masculine heroics of abstract expressionism and action art that had taken Japan by storm in the postwar period, forging an innovative mode of expression that was whimsical and strange in its tone, but nonetheless bore a potent political thrust.


By experimenting with the visibility and invisibility of the body, I argue Katsura enacted what Jacques Rancière terms political “dissensus.” Rancière sees genuine art and politics as those that create new relations between the visible and the invisible, liberating bodies from their assigned places and breaking with the ‘natural’ order of the sensible. Similarly, by experimenting with the visibility of the Othered body Katsura reoriented aesthetic-political sensibility and opened up a space for a wider discourse on gender and race in Japan.

Thursday, April 27, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact  Zhiyan Yang (zhiyan@uchicago.edu)


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