May 25, Jue Hou

Friday, May 25,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Skin Deep: Corporeography from Kafka to Qiu Zhijie

Jue Hou
Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

(Left) Martin Senn, Franz Kafka: Der Eigentümliche Apparataus der Erzählung “In der Strafkolonie.” [Franz Kafka: The Peculiar Apparatus from the Story “In the Penal Colony.”]
(Right) Qiu Zhijie, 紋身2 [Tattoo II]

A comparative study of corporeal inscriptions, this paper interrogates the intersection of language, death, and the surface/depth of the body. Taking as my departure a recent medical case in which an unconscious patient’s tattooed request to withhold emergency care has spurred much debate, I intend to approach bodily writings as sites where language, communication, and mortality conjoin and contest with each other. Revisiting the famous debate between Jacques Derrida and John Searle over the nature of the signature, I shall seek to explore the materiality of writing through engaging a variety of texts and works of art, including Paul de Man’s writing on Wordsworth’s reflections upon epitaphs, Franz Kafka’s short story, “In the Penal Colony,” as well as representations of the skin in works of contemporary Chinese art such as Xu Bing’s A Case Study of Transference 一個轉換案例的研究, Zhang Huan’s Family Tree 家譜, and Qiu Zhijie’s Tattoo series 紋身系列. What is defacement? What can/do tattoos do? What are the limitations of the mind/body dualism, conceived through a phenomenology of the marked skin? What do corporeographies, understood as a kind of border writing that inhabits the fleshy interface, tell us about the surface/depth model of subjectivity? These are among questions I seek to address.

Friday, May 25,  4:30 – 6:30 pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

Feb. 1, Zhiyan Yang

Thursday, February 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 152  (Please note the special day and time)

When Recent Past Became New History: Learning from a Historical Survey (1987-1991) of Modern Architecture in China

Zhiyan Yang

Department of Art History, University of Chicago

”International Bridge in Tientsin,” an index label from The Architectural Heritage of Modern China: Tianjin中国近代建築総覧総覧:天津篇 (1989)

From 1987 to 1991, a team comprised of both Chinese and Japanese architectural historians collaborated to survey the existing architecture built in between 1840s and 1940s among eighteen Chinese cities and compiled an extensive list of data. Known as the Comprehensive Study of Modern Architecture in China 中国近代建筑总览, the project has reinvigorated the field and remained foundational to this day. I argue that it is unique not only as a corpus of documentation, but also as a historic event in itself. The nature of the collaboration cultivated a changing attitude towards China’s architectural heritages, revealing negotiations between different cultural, linguistic, and historiographical traditions. By unfolding the processes of knowledge production, comparing publications from both the Chinese and Japanese sides, and questioning the historical connotations and intricacies behind them, I hope to shed new light on how the Chinese architectural world understood and adapted to the new challenges by reconsidering its recent architectural past as a critical site for modernization. Analyzing both text and image through a comparative perspective, I will also explain the project against background of a globalizing contemporary architectural culture in the 1980s and explore why this particular history has had a broader intellectual and social impact on the entire region of East Asia.

Thursday, February 1,  5:00 – 7:00 pm, CWAC 152

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

Oct 27, LI Jian’an

Friday, October 27,  4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC 156

从山林到海洋——福建古代陶瓷与海上丝绸之路

From the Mountain Forests to the Sea: Fujian Ancient Ceramics and the Maritime Silk Road

栗建安 LI Jian’an 

福建博物院文物考古研究所, 所长  Director, Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology, Fujian Museum

*Note: This talk will be delivered in Chinese

中国东南沿海的福建在半个多世纪以来的考古工作中,发现了自商代以降尤其是历史时期的众多古窑址,出土的唐宋元明清各个朝代的各类陶瓷器,与海上丝绸之路沿线上的沉船、港市遗址所遗存的大量福建陶瓷可相互映证,因此成为海上丝绸之路的重要历史见证、研究的珍贵实物资料,也证实了福建陶瓷在早期贸易全球化进程中的重要历史地位。

Friday, October 27,  4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC 156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Nancy P. Lin (nancyplin@uchicago.edu)

May 6 Henry Smith

Friday, May 6, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Making Meiji Red: Materiality vs Meaning in the Changing Colors of 19th-century Ukiyo-e

Henry Smith
Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, EALC, Columbia University

Two decades ago, I postulated a “Blue Revolution” in ukiyo-e woodblock prints that began in 1829 with a sudden increase in the use of imported Prussian blue, a versatile pigment that quickly dominated landscape prints in particular. I further argued that this bright new blue came to express a new awareness of the world across blue oceans under blue skies into which the Japanese were increasingly drawn. I hypothesized finally that a similar process would be repeated four decades later in the 1860s with the import of a new generation of imported colorants, but now the principal hues were purple and red. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, I proposed, “Red became the modal color of another era with other priorities: where late-Edo blue was the color of expanding space, Meiji red was to become the color of accelerated time.” This talk is a report on an ongoing research project in which I have been engaged for two years in cooperation with the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to identify these new colorants and trace their history. The results force a thorough reconception of the materiality of Meiji ukiyo-e colorants and their artistic possibilities, and in turn a new look at the diverse and changing meanings embodied in “Meiji Red.”

Friday, May 6, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

April 29 Douglas Gabriel

Friday, April 29, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Revolution from 360 Ft. Below: On the Pyongyang Metro and the Problem of Ground

Douglas Gabriel
Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University

Among the deepest subway systems in the world, the Pyongyang Metro is marked by a radical disjunction with the space of the North Korean capital above it. Rather than referencing street names or landmarks above ground, each of the 17 stations on the Metro’s two lines is named after and elaborately designed according to a revolutionary theme, ranging from Camaraderie to Prosperity. Further, the Metro stations contain no maps of Pyongyang, and, in turn, city maps do not indicate the locations of the Metro stations. Frequently, the Pyongyang Metro is characterized as, on the one hand, a conspicuous form of propagandistic brainwashing, and, on the other hand, the result of a militaristic effort to conceal the locations of underground sites that could potentially serve as emergency bomb shelters. In contrast, this paper draws on visual evidence as well as previously unutilized primary sources in order to demonstrate that the bifurcation of the Metro and the city space stems from a highly singular understanding of the relationship between material reality and revolutionary ideas. I argue that the architectural design, lighting, sound, and mosaic murals of the Metro stations form a complex system of aesthetic effects aimed at suspending the North Korean revolutionary project within a dialectic of ground and transcendence.

Friday, April 29, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

April 15 Kristina Kleutghen

Friday, April 15, 4 to 6pm, CWAC156

Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China

Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis

unnamed

When European optical devices were first introduced into early modern East Asia, these devices affected not only viewing experiences and ideas about vision, but also the production of art. In contrast to the well-established effects on Japanese art, the Chinese case has barely been explored, not the least reason being that the science of optics did not develop significantly there prior to the mid-nineteenth century. Yet from the seventeenth century onward, Qing domestic production and use of optical devices resulted in significant relationships with art at the imperial, elite, and popular levels. The devices and the viewing experiences that they mediated created varying levels of foreign intervention into Chinese art, vision, and visuality. However, the consistent but diverse methods of Sinification of all these elements and the reliance on domestic products rather than imports offers new insights into how Qing art engaged the West without being limited to either the court or the capital. Through an art-historical case study of several different optical devices and their related works of art that are all linked through one particular type of magnifying lens, this talk examines how the production and consumption of these new objects and images varied with place, format, audience, and social status. 

Friday, April 15, 4:00 to 6:00pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

April 8 Sandy Lin

Friday, April 8, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

The Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion) Screens from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: An Object Biography

Sandy Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago

In Summer 2015, a group of three screens were discovered in a storage facility of the Chicago Park District and later acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago. Photographs of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and contemporary sources suggest that the screens were painted by Hashimoto Gahō for the Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion), a building commissioned by the Japanese government and erected in Jackson Park for the fair. Their discovery makes an exciting addition to the four ranma (transom) panels (now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago) as the only surviving architectural elements from the Hōōden, which burned down in 1946. Nevertheless, a close examination of the screens has revealed some material discrepancies and historical incongruities. In an effort to clarify the confusion, this presentation outlines the object biography of the screens, following their footsteps through their (1) material birth in 1892, (2) career in the 1893 World’s Fair, (3) neglect after the conclusion of the fair, (4) second career from 1936 to 1942 in a Japanese teahouse that was converted from the Hōōden, and (5) provisional death in 1943, when they were removed from the teahouse and sheltered in storage. Throughout the different stages in their life, the screens developed numerous relationships with various communities of people and objects, accumulating a biography that exemplifies their anachronic ability to embody multiple temporalities.

Friday, April 8, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Spring Schedule 2016

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia is proud to present our schedule for Spring 2016.
All sessions unless otherwise noted will take place in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center (CWAC)

Fridays, 4:30-6:30
pm
Room 156

Paper Flower by Tiffanie Turner

April 1 Dongshan Zhang
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago
Making Images of Dharma

April 8 Sandy Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago
The Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion) Screens from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: An Object Biography

April 15 Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis
Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China
(This event is sponsored by CEAS Committee on Chinese Studies)

April 29 Douglas Gabriel
PhD candidate, Northwestern University
Revolution from 360 Ft. Below: On the Pyongyang Metro and the Problem of Ground
(Co-coordinated with RAVE Workshop)

May 6 Henry Smith
Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, EALC, Columbia University
TBD

May 20 Penglinag Lu
Curatorial Fellow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Two-Thousand-Year Journey of the Goosefoot Lamp (Yanzudeng): Exoticism, Antiquarianism and Visual Redesign

May 27 Naixi Feng
Ph.D. Student, East Asian Studies, University of Chicago
Stone Drum en route: A Study on the Late Ming Urban Literature of Beijing

January 15 Federico Marcon

Friday, January 15, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Money Talks: Monetary Disputes in Early Eighteenth-Century Japan

Federico Marcon 

Professor of Japanese History at Princeton University

koban

AT THE TURN OF THE eighteenth century, as the lavish splendor of the Genroku era waned into a decade of economic stagnation and social unrest, two scholars debated on the nature of money and its proper administration. The dispute revealed not only the extent of the monetary integration of Japanese society only after a century of Tokugawa rule, but also the sophistication of samurai’s understanding of financial dynamics. The story of the clash of the two views of what money is, the bullionism of Arai Hakuseki and the contractualism of Ogiwara Shigehide and Ogyū Sorai, bespeaks a turning point in the economic politics of early modern Japan—a turning point of transnational relevance, as in contemporaneous England economic thinkers were debating analogous issues. 

Friday, January 15, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Ben at benjamin2@uchicago.edu or Xi at xizh@uchicago.edu

December 4 Martin Powers

Friday, December 4, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 152

How Did Artists Question the Authorities in Early Modern China and England?

Martin Powers
Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan

Looking at cultural practice in Europe’s late, early modern period, Pierre Bourdieu saw a development in which “intellectual and artistic life…progressively freed itself from aristocratic and ecclesiastical tutelage”. It was only after the decline of aristocracy that artists acquired the agency to use their skills to question social practice, and so in 18th century England one begins to find politically-charged prints from the 1720’s onward. A comparable development occurred in China after the decline of “aristocratic and ecclesiastical tutelage” in Song times. It was then that artists, inspired by the guwen 古文movement, began to address social themes in their work. Afterwards one can find examples of subversive art in China from Song times at least through the end of the Ming. This lecture examines the pattern of development in both cases and finds that both Chinese and English artists adopted similar tropic strategies, and in a similar order, as artists acquired more and more independence from the rich and noble.

Friday, December 4, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 152
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu