Special Workshop Series by Wu Hung

Newly Unearthed Tang Tomb Murals of Simulated Shanshui Paintings — What Do They Tell Us?

新出土的“拟山水画”唐墓壁画——它们告诉我们什么?

 

Details of the landscape mural in the tomb of Han Xiu 韩休 (740), photo by Wu Hung.

 

The talk will last about 45 min – 1 hour, with about 1 hour afterwards for Q&A moderated by ZOU Yifan (persons in need of assistance please contact yifanzou@uchicago.edu)

 

Part 1: Oct 30 (Friday), 5 pm – 7 pm (CDT)

Registration link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5bt1KsvvSJ-U0TvcmTDekA

Part 2: Nov 5 (Thursday), 5 pm – 7 pm (CST) *please note CDT to CST transition

Registration link for Part 2: https://uchicago.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_W6mEBsRPTDa9utJ9obbtow 

Nancy P. Lin, OCT 21

Speaker: Nancy P. Lin (PhD candidate, Department of Art History)

Sites at the Periphery: Performance, Photography, and the Making of Beijing’s ‘East Village’(selection from dissertation chapter)

Discussant: Madeline Eschenburg (Lecturer, College of Arts and Sciences, Washburn University)

Wednesday, October 21st 2020

4:45-6:45 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

 

Abstract:

The development of experimental contemporary Chinese art outside the official support of government institutions in the 1990s has often been described as “underground” (dixia) or “independent” (duli). Yet I suggest that the term “peripheral” (bianyuan) is a much more apt description as it simultaneously refers to the very spaces in which art has flourished in the physical city and the spatial dynamics of experimental art’s alternative positioning. During a period of massive urban reconstruction, artists living and working in the city’s urban fringes struggled with spatial precarity and social/economic marginality. These sites and living conditions also gave rise to new types of artistic projects, spaces, and a distinctly new artistic identity. This paper explores how collaborations between performance and photographic activities by a group of artists living in Beijing’s “East Village” drew upon the area’s spatial marginality to construct an alternative artistic identity and social network that transformed the run-down village into an art world site. These activities in the mid-1990s will be contextualized within the broader phenomenon of site-based art practices that participated in the creation of new social and institutional spaces for contemporary art in China. This period of artistic activities at the periphery serves as a case study for understanding the complex dynamic between artistic practice, social change, and urban transformation.

RongRong, East Village Beijing, 1994 No. 1, 1994, Gelatin silver print, 20 × 24 in (50.8 × 61 cm)

Zoom Registration Link:

https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEocOGqrj8vGNCHHzwRUa0aNvp8sjbjyrKW

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Nancy P. Lin is a PhD candidate specializing in modern and contemporary Chinese art and architecture. She received her B.A. summa cum laude in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. Her dissertation, titled “Making Spaces: Site-based Practice in Contemporary Chinese Art, 1990s-2000s,” focuses on the intersection of art and urbanism in examining locally situated, yet globally oriented spatial and site-specific artistic practices in China. As the 2019-2020 Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Curatorial Intern at the Smart Museum of Art, she worked extensively on the exhibition Allure of Matter: Material Art from China. From 2017 to 2018, she was a fellow of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Urban Art and Urban Form, co-organizing three interdisciplinary symposia that brought together artists, architects, and urban scholars from the sciences and the humanities. She received the 2015 Schiff Foundation Writing Fellowship and, together with fellow collaborators, was a recipient of the 2016 Graham Foundation project grant for the independent publication Building Subjects (Standpunkte, 2019), a study on collective housing in China. Her other publications include an article in the edited volume Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China: Urbanized Interfaces (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) and a forthcoming article in the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect, Winter 2020).

Her work has been generously supported by The Getty Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Schiff Foundation, Graham Foundation, as well as the Art History Department and the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago.

 

Madeline Eschenburg is a lecturer at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. She specializes in contemporary Chinese art with a focus on performance and Social Practice art. She has published articles and book chapters about Chinese performance art and its relationship to documentary practice in the 1990s and early 21st century. She is currently working on a book project which explores the history of contemporary Chinese artists’ inclusion of marginalized communities in performance art and Social Practice projects. She will be presenting a paper titled “Mapping Marginality: Chinese Migrant Workers at the Venice Biennial” at the 2021 College Art Association annual conference.

Aurelia Campbell, Oct 7

Aurelia Campbell (Associate Professor, Art, Art History, and Film Faculty, Boston College)

“Tibetan Stupa as Protective Force in Early Ming Burials”

Discussant: Wei-Cheng Lin (Associate Professor of Art History and the College, Department of Art History)

Wednesday, Oct 7

 4:45-6:45 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

 

Abstract

This paper focuses on an unusual early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) brick tomb in Mayishan, Wangcheng County, Hunan. The tomb belongs to a woman named Zhang Miaoshou, who served as the wet nurse of Prince Gu, nineteenth son of the Ming founder, Zhu Yuanzhang. Among the numerous Buddhist artifacts unearthed from the tomb, the most intriguing is a large stone reliquary in the shape of a Tibetan-style stupa, which holds dozens of Buddhist and Daoist scriptures. What was it doing there? By connecting the stupa to a host of earlier material evidence incorporating the written word, this paper argues that the stupa and its contents ultimately served apotropaic and salvific functions. It furthermore makes a case for the significance of the Tibetan-style stupa as a symbol of protection in the post-Mongol world.

Zoom Registration Link:

https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJErc-muqTgpE9BK_PMqYLqqL9mZweUs7VyH

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Aurelia Campbell is Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Film at Boston College. Her research centers on the architecture and material culture of the Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) periods in China. Campbell’s first book, What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming (University of Washington Press, 2020) examines the construction projects of the famous Yongle emperor to consider how imperial ideology is given form in built space. Addressing how and why his buildings were constructed, the book expands our understanding of “imperial Chinese architecture” as a building typology. Her second book, in progress, explores the relationship between Buddhism and mortuary culture in the Ming and Qing periods. The book will consider Buddhist funerary art and architecture from a large swath of society—including emperors, empresses, princes, eunuchs, monks, and aristocrats—to better understand how conceptions of the afterlife differed according to one’s position in life. The book aims to fill a gap in scholarship on Chinese tombs after the Yuan dynasty. Her research has been supported through grants and fellowships from Millard Meiss Publication Fund, James Geiss Foundation, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Asian Cultural Council, and Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, among others.

 

Wei-Cheng Lin is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture, with a focus on medieval period, and has published on both Buddhist and funeral art and architecture of medieval China. His first book, Building a Sacred Mountain: Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, was published in 2014 with the University of Washington Press. He has also written on topics related to traditional architecture in modern China. Lin is currently working on two book projects: Performative Architecture of China, explores architecture’s performative potential through history and the meanings enacted through such architectural performance. Necessarily Incomplete: Fragments of Chinese Artifacts investigate fragments of Chinese artifacts, as well as the cultural practices they solicited and engaged, to locate their agentic power in generating the multivalent significance of those artifacts, otherwise undetectable or overlooked.

Zhenru Zhou, May 29

Zhenru Zhou, PhD candidate, Department of Art History

“Hexi Buddhist Landscape in the Making: From a Dunhuang Colossal Buddha Image to the Nine-Story Pavilion”

Discussant: Jiayi Zhu, PhD student, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Friday, May 29, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: The colossal Buddha image is one of the major visual elements in the Buddhist landscape across South, Central and East Asia. The Northern Colossal Image (beidaxiang 北大像) of the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, Gansu), created in 695 CE, is often regarded as such a production of “the Second International Buddhist Style” whose other name is “the Imperial Style of Tang China”. This paper, however, complicates this static view by asking what the Mogao Colossal has visually, physically, and conceptually evolved into since the Tibetan (781-850) and the Guiyijun periods (851-1036). It investigates the ways in which the Mogao Colossal has engaged with the spectacles of Buddhist caves and auspicious images (ruixiang 瑞像) at regional and local scales—namely, along the Hexi or Gansu Corridor, at the Mogao complex, and in the vicinity of the Mogao Colossal. I argue that the Mogao Colossal, as the production of a series of image-making and story-telling, was remade for the purpose of reviving and relocating the legendary Buddhist landscape from the ancient Liangzhou (present-day Wuwei, Gansu) to the contemporary Dunhuang. This study examines a variety of visual materials, ranging from medieval and modern visual representations of Buddhist caves and landscapes, to archaeological evidences at the Mogao Caves and the Tiantishan Caves (Wuwei) that were excavated or published at the turn of the 21st century. By critically and creatively engaging with these materials, this study hopes to shed new light on the coming-into-being of the elaborate architectural traditions of the Mogao Caves, as the Mogao Colossal is now more popularly known as “the Nine-Story Pavilion” (jiuceng lou 九层楼).

The vicinity of the Northern Colossal Image Cave, the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, China). Various sources, photocollage by author.

Zoom Registration Link:

https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/vpUqd-Gqpj8ilKaC_sf3FR0f5noJHZcNLA

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Zhenru Zhou studies religious art and architecture in China and beyond, with a focus on the medieval Buddhist cave-temples in Northern China. She received an M. Arch degree from Princeton University in 2016, and another M. Arch and a B. Arch degree from Tsinghua University (China). Her dissertation project, titled “Between the Virtual and the Real: A New Architecture of the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, China) in 781-1036 CE,” explores the complexity of cave architecture regarding its hybrid materiality and visuality, construction and reconstruction over time.

Jiayi Zhu is PhD student at the East Asian Languages & Civilizations Department. Her area of study is Medieval China, Japan and Korea. Jiayi received her BA from Middlebury College (Anthropology and Environmental Studies) in 2014, and her MA from Columbia University (East Asian Buddhism) in 2017. Her research focuses on Esoteric Buddhism and Buddhist art in East Asia from 7th to 10th century.

 

Sun, Bo. May 8

Sun, Bo. PhD., Visiting Scholar, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; Associate Research Professor and Director of Science and Art Office, Exhibition Department in the National Museum of China

“A Complimentary Study of shuilu-hua (the Painting of Water-and-Land Rituals) in Qinglong Temple (Temple of Blue Dragon) in Jishan County (Shanxi, China) (稷山青龙寺水陆画考补)”

Discussant: Tao, Jin. Master’s student, Divinity School

This talk will be delivered in Chinese.

Friday, May 8, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: The “Water-and-Land Ritual” (shuilu fahui水陆法会) was one of the most elaborated Buddhist rites developed in China for the universal salvation of the deceased and all sentient beings. The “Water-and-Land Painting” (shuilu hua 水陆画), which is an indispensable visual aid to this ritual, was often painted in Buddha halls or on hanging scrolls. It is one of the major subject matters of Chinese Buddhist painting since the Middle Periods. Among the numerous Water-and-Land Paintings that exist in China, the earliest example is a mural circle in the Middle Buddha Hall of the Qinglong Monastery (the Monastery of Blue Dragon), which was painted during the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368). The Qinglong mural preserves many early features of the Water-and-Land Painting, such as a special and rigorous composition. The Qinglong mural, which differs from later paintings of the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing periods (1644–1911), deserves a comprehensive case study. Since the publication of the author’s Master’s Thesis titled “A Study of The Mural Paintings in The Qinglong Monastery in Jishan County — With a Focus on The Water-and-Land Painting in The Middle Hall” (稷山青龙寺壁画研究——以腰殿水陆画为中心) in 2010, several North American scholars have conducted new researches based on the author’s primary study. In the past decade, gladly, new evidences have been found. These evidences not only approve some of the author’s theses, but also allow him to elucidate some painting details that initially appeared obscure. In these seemingly trivial details, the author finds a new approach to the meanings and the historical developments of the Water-and-Land Painting. In this talk, he will discuss five of the important details that shed light on the Qinglong mural and the genre of the Water-and-Land Painting.

A detail of the Water and Land mural painting, southern wall, the Middle Buddha Hall of the Qinglong Monastery, Yuan dynasty.

 

You can download Sun Bo’s pre-circulated materials here with the password shuilu.

Zoom Registration Link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/uZQsdOugrDsqfA9q4LSbPDDo1bcEpTNIrA

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Dr. Sun, Bo is an Associate Research Professor and Director of Science and Art Office, Exhibition Department in National Museum of China. Since 2010, he has participated in curating a series of exhibitions hosted by the National Museum of China ranging from ancient archaeology to contemporary art. In terms of research, his academic interests focus on Chinese religious art after the tenth century, and material and visual culture exchange in Eurasia. As a visiting scholar of CAMLab, he currently engages in three research or exhibition projects including paintings used for shuilu rites (水陸法會), and visual representation of Avatamsaka Sutra and Chan’an of Tang dynasty.

Tao, Jin is a 2nd year MA student at the Divinity School University of Chicago, and also a practicing architect based in Beijing. Jin’s previous architectural projects mainly attribute to religious typology, especially a few Taoist temples in the sacred mountain in the south of China. His research interests cover the comparative study between Jewish and Taoist theology, ritual practice of ancient Chinese religions, and the sacred space generated by the body concepts, ritual actions, religious thoughts, and social structures. His current book in progress is The Covenant: The Religious Ethos and Conferral Liturgy of Taoist Register.

Hongxiang Jin, April 24

Hongxiang Jin, visiting student, Department of Art History; PhD candidate, School of History & Culture, Sichuan University

“To the Body or the Soul? ——The Funerary Practice of in-Burial Offering in Wei and Jin China (220CE—420CE)”

Respondent: Li Jiang, PhD student, Department of Art History

Friday, April 24th, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: Funerary practice and ancestral worship have always been an important part of the system of rites in ancient China. In the fields of Chinese archaeology and art history, there have been heated discussions about the funerary ritual practice of making offerings inside the burials, with a focus on the Han dynasty (202 BC—220 CE). However, the practice of in-burial offering during the Wei and Jin dynasties (220CE—420CE) is little-studied. In almost every case among the few archaeological discoveries in Luoyang (in present-day Henan) —the capital city of the Wei and West Jin dynasties, the ritual offerings were found directly in front of the coffin. However, this practice did not pervade the whole country. In comparison, the practice in Nanjing (in present-day Jiangsu)—the capital city of the East Jin dynasty—was to worship the symbol of the dead in the tomb, often the Spiritual Seat. It is noteworthy that the practice varied even in the same family tomb complex. The variation of in-burial offering reflects the conceptual debate in ancient China on whether the soul exists in the tomb. And these varied practices were influenced by the well-known political order of “Economic Funeral” (bozang 薄葬). In the historical context of the Economic Funeral order, as I would suggest, a significant change in the architectural program of the tomb has intensified the problem of orientation in the in-burial offering practice. Since a tomb no longer comprised an antechamber and a rear chamber, the coffins—that represents the body—and the spiritual seat—that symbolizes the soul—would have not necessarily aligned in the same direction. Engaging with archaeological discoveries and historical documents, this talk will examine the variation in in-burial offering practice in the historical context and show how the political order accentuated the changes in tomb design and funerary practice.

 

A niche of Dunhuang Foyemiao tomb M37

 

Zoom Registration Linkhttps://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/vJ0ldO2oqj8t83Pq0OGQo2PtMNvUeORf4g

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Hongxiang Jin is a PhD candidate of the Department of Archaeology of Sichuan University. His study focuses on the Tombs of the Wei and Jin Dynasties in China. He received a B.A degree from Sichuan University in 2015, after which he directly entered the PhD program. During the undergraduate studie, he examined the Tomb Passage System in the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties.  His current research concerns the changing of tombs under the ‘Economic Funeral order’(bozangling 薄葬令).

 

Li Jiang is a PhD student of East Asian art history, focusing primarily on funerary art in ancient and early medieval China. Li Jiang received her MA from the University of Chicago in 2018. Her thesis examined the fragments of a lacquer screen from an elite burial of the Northern Wei dynasty. Her current research involves the material cultural and inter-regional issues in northeast Asian tomb arts from the fourth to seventh centuries.

 

Christina Yu, March 7

A conversation and lunch with Christina Yu, PhD, Matsutaro Shoriki Chair, Art of Asia, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Saturday, March 7, 2020

12:00-1:30pm, CWAC lounge

RSVP is required at this link by March 5

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

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou (zhenru@zhenruzhou.com) and Yin Wu (yinwu@uchicago.edu).

Google spreadsheet URL link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jD0kaB1Bb_vb12zyQFQBaFYKDwDwhrXPtwVOZnWx1p0/edit?usp=sharing

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Christina Yu Yu is Matsutaro Shoriki Chair of Asian Art of Asia at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). Prior to this position, Christina has served as the director of the University of Southern California Pacific Asia Museum (USC PAM), and as an assistant curator of Chinese and Korean art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She has also held positions at Chambers Fine Art, a gallery based in New York and Beijing, and the Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan. Yu Yu attended Wellesley College for her undergraduate studies. She earned her master’s degree from Boston University and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, with a dissertation focused on paintings from China’s Yuan dynasty.

Rufei Luo, March 6

Luo Rufei, PhD candidate, Zhejiang University; exchange student, University of Chicago

“A Preliminary Research on Murals of Thousand Buddhas in Tibet:

Starting with the Zhabs Cave at Be Gdong of Rtswa Mda’ County of Mnga’ Ris Prefecture in Western Tibet”

Respondent: Dongshan Zhang, PhD candidate, Department of Art History

Friday, March 6, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, CWAC 152

Refreshments will be provided

 

Abstract: This paper mainly focuses on the murals of Thousand Buddhas in Tibet to discover the cult of Mahāyāna Buddhism and “Buddha” in Tibet from the beginning of the Phyi dar Period (the Second Propagation of Tibetan Buddhism) in the 11th century. In addition, as the influence of “Tantrism” was growing in Tibet in this period, these images started to reveal a kind of “tantric” implication which showed a combination of Mahāyāna Buddhism and Tantrism. This paper starts with a case study on the murals of the Zhabs Cave at Rtswa mda’ County in Ngari Prefecture of Western Tibet. This case mainly consists of Mahāyāna motifs, including the Thousand Buddha motifs in the main chamber, as well as the images of Wheel of Rebirth, a Six-armed Avalokiteśvara, Jātaka tales among other images on the corridor.

Corridor and main chamber of the Zhabs Cave, Rtswa mda’ County, Ngari. Photo by author, 2019.

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou (zhenru@zhenruzhou.com) and Yin Wu (yinwu@uchicago.edu).

 

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Rufei Luo is currently a visiting student in the Department of Art History, the University of Chicago. She is a PhD candidate in Zhejiang University, studying Tibetan Buddhist Art under the guidance of Prof. Jisheng Xie. During her graduate study, she had experiences on fieldwork of the Buddhist relics in Tibet and many other places around China with the Center for Buddhist Art at Zhejiang University. She has co-edited the Diaosu Yishu: Jiangnan Juan (Art of Sculpture: Volume of Jiangnan) in The Collection of Tibetan Fine Art, which was published in 2019.

 

Dongshan Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History, the University of Chicago. His interests are the Arts of the steppe peoples, who formed the Five Dynasties, Liao, Xia, Jin, and Yuan China(s). Before he came to Chicago, Dongshan completed coursework and internships at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Palace Museum (Beijing), Williams College, Columbia University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His MA thesis deals with the flowers and birds in a Yuan dynasty wall painting, Medicine Buddha Bhaisajyaguru.

 

Delin Lai, February 28

Delin Lai, PhD, Professor and Head of Art History Program, Department of Fine Art, the University of Louisville

“Regionality: A Resistant Issue and Keyword in Modern Chinese Architecture”

Respondent: Zhiyan Yang, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History

Friday, February 28, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, CWAC 152

Refreshments and a catered dinner will be provided

Abstract: This paper decodes various manifestations of “regionality”, an important issue and keyword in modern Chinese architectural history. It argues that each manifestation was a response to cultural, political, social, or even professional challenges faced by architectural scholars, officials, or practitioners. The notion of regionality thus may be interpreted as strategies of criticism or resistance. As “vernacular architecture” it was to criticize monument-dominated historical study, as “the study of local geography” to resist the International Style, as “regional styles” to resist the monopoly of the state discourse, as “Critical Regionalism” or “land-based rationalism” to resist the hegemony of globalized architectural practice, and as “cultural-oriented regionalism” to strive for self-justification in the competition for a national expression.

 

Li Xiaodong Atelier, Bridge School, Xiaoshi Village, Pinghe County, Fujian, 2009

 

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.

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou (zhenru@zhenruzhou.com) and Yin Wu (yinwu@uchicago.edu).

 

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Delin Lai is an alumnus of the University of Chicago. He studied modern Chinese architecture under the guidance of Professors Wu Hung and Katherine Taylor in the Department of Art History, and graduated in 2007. He is now professor of art history at the University of Louisville. Delin specializes in modern Chinese cities and architecture and their relationship with nationalism, modernism, and Western influence. His publications include Jindai Zhejiang Lu (Who’s who in modern Chinese architecture, 2006), Zhongguo Jindai Jianzhushi Yanjiu (Studies in modern Chinese architecture, 2007), Minguo Lizhi Jianzhu yu Zhongshan Jinian (Ritual architecture in republican China and the cult of Sun Yat-sen, 2012), Zhongguo Jindai Sixiangshi yu Jianzhu Shixueshi (Changing ideals in modern China and its historiography of architecture, 2016), and the papers “Searching for a Modern Chinese Monument: the design of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing, 1925-1929” and “Idealizing a Chinese Style: Rethinking Early Writings on Chinese Architecture and the Design of the National Central Museum in Nanjing” in The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. He is the Lead Editor of the five-volume book Zhongguo Jindai Jianzhushi (History of Modern Chinese Architecture, 2016).

 

Zhiyan Yang is a doctoral candidate specializing in the history of modern and contemporary East Asian Architecture. He is currently writing a dissertation on post-socialist architecture in China and its various cultural applications and reflections, including exhibits, journals, history writing and its intersection with contemporary visual culture and art. He received his B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013 and M.A. from the University of Chicago in 2015. Zhiyan has been a researcher and overseas liaison of the Contemporary Chinese Art Yearbook Project spearheaded by Peking University and the University of Chicago since 2015. He has also previously interned at Xu Bing Studio in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Nancy P. Lin, February 20

Nancy P. Lin, PhD candidate, Department of Art History

“‘That artwork doesn’t exist’: Productive misreadings of performance documentation and what happens when you find out the ‘truth’”

Thursday, February 20, 2020

12:30 to 1:50 pm, CWAC 152

Co-sponsored with Speaking of Art: Artist Interviews in Scholarship and Practice

Lunch will be provided

 

Abstract: Multi-media contemporary artist Song Dong’s Writing Time with Water (Lhasa) (1996) exemplifies the artist’s longstanding performance actions featuring water as an artistic medium. Standing on the shores of the Lhasa River in Tibet, Song used an ink brush dipped in river water to mark each year of Lhasa’s 1,300-year history on 1,300 found stones, tossing each into the water and taking a photograph each time the stone is thrown. Along with several other works the artist created between 1996 and 1997, Writing Time (Lhasa) exemplifies the ways in which Song understood the relationship between action and trace, performance and documentation, while also articulating an expanded site-specific approach that links Lhasa to Beijing and Hong Kong. These points, based on archival photographs and video footage, have all been argued in my previous writings about Song Dong and the work. One aspect that hasn’t been considered, however, is the fact that this artwork doesn’t exist—not no-longer-extant, but in fact, never made. My talk reflects upon an instance of accidentally writing about a non-existent work as a way to ponder the methodological issues concerning artwork, documentation, and the artist interview. Where all can we locate the performance “artwork” and what evidentiary role can the artist interview play?

 

Writing Time with Water Lhasa, color photograph, 1996. © Beijing Commune

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou (zhenru@zhenruzhou.com) and Yin Wu (yinwu@uchicago.edu).

 

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Nancy P. Lin studies modern and contemporary Chinese art and architecture. She received her B.A. with highest honors in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. Her dissertation focuses on the intersection of art, architecture, and urban visual culture in examining the spatial and site-oriented artistic practices of Chinese contemporary artists in the 1990s. She received the 2015 Schiff Foundation Writing Fellowship and, together with fellow collaborators, was a recipient of the 2016 Graham Foundation project grant for the forthcoming publication Building Subjects, a survey of collective housing in China. She is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Curatorial Intern at the Smart Museum of Art and was previously a fellow of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Urban Art and Urban Form from 2017-2018. Her article on the Big Tail Elephant artist group is included in the edited volume Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China: Urbanized Interfaces (Amsterdam University Press, 2018).