Xu Bing + Wu Hung, Nov 11

We invite you to join us next Friday for a special VMPEA event of this quarter, kindly co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Center for the Art of East Asia:

Xu Bing + Wu Hung: A Conversation

Friday, November 11, 2022

5:15–6:45pm CT, CWAC 157

Reception to follow at the CWAC lounge

 *The event will be in Chinese

In the event, artist Xu Bing will talk about his on-going new art projects. He will then have a conversation with Professor Wu Hung, with a Q&A session and reception to follow. The event is open to people from all fields but will be conducted primarily in Chinese.

For those who are interested, please RSVP here by Tuesday, November 8. This event is open to in-person audience only. Because space is limited, if you cannot attend after registration, please email Lucien Sun (lesun@uchicago.edu) in advance to cancel your registration. We appreciate your kind cooperation.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Danni Huang, Nov 9

Please join us tomorrow for the third VMPEA event of this quarter, featuring:

Danni Huang

MAPH Student, UChicago

“Tang Tradition in the Liao’s Hands: Narrating The Guanyin Pavilion at Dule Monastery”

Discussant: Wei-cheng Lin

Associate Professor of Art History and the College, UChicago

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

4:45–6:45 pm CT, CWAC 152

For those who desire to attend remotely, please use this link to register for the Zoom meeting. 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The password to this zoom session is 185137


Guanyin Pavilion, Dule Monastery (Photo: Danni Huang, 2021)



At the point of its discovery by modern scholars in the early twentieth century, Dule Monastery (Dulesi 獨樂寺), located in Ji County (Ji xian 薊縣), Tianjin Municipality, was thought to be the earliest extant Buddhist monastery from the Liao dynasty 遼朝 in China. Many contemporary scholars refer to the monastery as a Liao dynasty building complex or the buildings an example of Liao-style architecture (Liaodai jianzhu 遼代建築), which seems to be a straightforward classification at first glance. Yet, the integrity of the original style intended for Dule Monastery has been compromised since it has experienced at least twenty-eight earthquakes and at least six large reconstructions. Traditionally, scholars used general dynastic and stylistic labels to classify art objects and architectural monuments. However, this classification is problematic, since dynastic categories suggest that dynastic style is a set of fixed, unchanging characteristics within a territorial boundary. By contrast, recent research indicates that diverse architectural and sculptural styles resulted from the different identities of the patrons and artisans of the reconstructions. This makes dynastic categories insufficient to describe the complexity of these sites and sculptures held within them. This paper will investigate the diachronic and geographical complexities of the Guanyin Pavilion (Guanyin ge 觀音閣) at Dule Monastery to reveal cross-dynastic and cross-geographical connections. My research indicates that the eclectic architectural styles that had developed since the Tang were motivated by the continuous demands of local rulers and practitioners of Esoteric Buddhism.



Danni Huang is currently a first-year MAPH student at the University of Chicago. She received her bachelor’s degree in Art History and Asian Studies from Vanderbilt University. Her current research interest focuses on how religious spaces, like the ge and ta, dictate worshippers’ spiritual interaction with divinities in different ways, through complex assemblages of sculpture and architecture.

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.

Ellen Larson, Nov 3

We invite you to join us at Ellen Larson’s VMPEA talk this Thursday (Nov 3), from 5-7pm. The talk will be hybrid, at CWAC 152 and livestreamed. We hope to see many of you there!


Ellen Larson

CAEA Postdoctoral Instructor of Art History, UChicago

who will present the paper

“Spectral Ecologies: Post-Industrial Urban Aesthetics in Northeast China”

on Thursday*, November 3, 2022

from 5:00 – 7:00 pm CST* in CWAC 152.

Register here if you wish to join us remotely.

*Please note the unusual date and time



Since the turn of the 21st century, multimedia artists and filmmakers from China have employed the moving image as a tool to capture temporalities shaped by urban-industrial decline in northeast China. A counterpoint to massive economic prosperity within the Pearl River Delta, fueled by investments in new technologies and industries, this region, termed Dongbei in Chinese, has witnessed the dismantling of socialized production, along with the transformation of once thriving factory complexes into largely abandoned ghostly spaces. In this paper “Spectral Ecologies: Post-Industrial Urban Aesthetics in Northeast China” artists Hao Jingban, Wang Bing, and Wang Mowen reference the ghosts of cultural memory through distinctive visual presentations of bygone monumentalities from China’s socialist past, including grand memorials to Chairman Mao and other iconic forms of early PRC-era infrastructure, both physical and ideological. I propose that these artists incorporate what writer and critic Chris Berry has referred to as “on-the-spot realism,” (jishizhuyi) a term which incorporates site-specific observational cinematic realism to document occurrences within artists’ everyday surroundings. “Spectral Ecologies” contemplates how particularities within bygone centers of industrial-driven labor have influenced time-based works over the past two decades. Collectively, Hao Jingban, Wang Bing, and Wang Mowen activate the moving image as both archive and research method. They gesture towards geo-agencies somewhere in between the past and the future, the living and the non-living. Most significantly, they document the ruined decay of northeast factory zones, summoning the metaphorical ghosts of this regions’ industrial history.

Wang Mowen, Trinity, 2019, single-channel video, 16 mins., 9 secs.



Ellen Larson is a Center for the Art of East Asia (CAEA) Postdoctoral Instructor in conjunction with the Department of Art History. Her research underscores the nature of temporalities as represented in moving image art made primarily in Mainland China. She is particularly interested in revealing how contemporary artists capture facets of accelerated time all the while living in a culture where physical environments and social connections are becoming increasingly obsolete due to major investments in robotics, AI technologies, online communication platforms, and virtual monetary exchange applications. Ellen’s research is also informed by urban studies, Asian futurisms, memory studies, and cyberfeminism studies. Her methodological approach to the study of art history incorporates curation and design as critical forms of applied practice. Before joining UChicago, she earned her PhD in art history from the University of Pittsburgh. Her doctoral dissertation, “On Time: Contemporary Chinese Video Art from China,” focused on emerging video and new media art since the turn of the new millennium. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Dunhuang Foundation. She also holds a master’s degree in modern Chinese history from Minzu University of China (Beijing), where she completed all coursework in Chinese.


The Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA) workshop is pleased to announce the Fall 2022 schedule. All the in-person events will meet on selected Wednesdays from 4:45 to 6:45 pm CT at CWAC (Cochrane-Woods Art Center) 152 unless otherwise noted. For the online events or those who would like to join us remotely for the in-person events, we will send out the registration link prior to these events. You are welcome to consult the VMPEA website for further information about these events, and please subscribe to our listserv here to receive event notifications.


Fall 2022 Schedule

October 26 

Nancy P. Lin, Klarman Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University

“Chance Encounters: Song Dong’s Wildlife (1997-1998), a Multi-sited Art Activity”

Discussant: Ellen Larson, CAEA Postdoctoral Instructor of Art History, UChicago

November 3

Ellen Larson, CAEA Postdoctoral Instructor of Art History, UChicago

“‘Blast Off!’ Picturing Utopian Nostalgia in Su Yu Hsin’s Blast Furnace No. II”

[Note the special date and time of this event. We will meet from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at CWAC 152]

November 9

Danni Huang, MAPH Student, UChicago

“An Investigation of The Guanyin Pavilion and The Eleven-Headed Guanyin Statue at Dule Monastery: Architectural Styles and Buddhist Sculptures in North China from the Seventh to the Tenth Century”

Discussant: Wei-cheng Lin, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and the College, UChicago

November 18

Anthony Stott, PhD Candidate, East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Comparative Literature, UChicago

“Context after the End of Monumental Public Space: Toward an Archipelagic Reimagining of Urban Resistance in the Theory and Design of Isozaki Arata”

Discussant: Zhiyan Yang, PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

[This is an online event co-hosted with the APEA workshop, and will meet from 6:00 to 8:00 pm]

Please feel free to contact Lucien (lesun@uchicago.edu) and Li (jiangli@uchicago.edu) with any questions you might have, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Yoon-Jee Choi, April 17

Yoon-Jee Choi, PhD student, Department of Art History

          “Time Shall Not Mend: Establishing the Lineage of Tsugi 継ぎ[Japanese Ceramic Repair]”

Respondent: Sizhao Yi, PhD student, Department of Art History

Friday, April 17, 2020

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

Abstract: While plenty of instructions and discussions have been created on tsugi 継ぎ [Japanese repairing pottery with lacquer often mixed with metal substance​], a pivotal trend appears among them: most of them are grounded in the arcane Orientalism of Zen Buddhism, Japanese tea ceremony culture, and wabi-sabi. The previous discourses strongly restrict the spectrum of research on the technique in two ways and, concerning this problem, this presentation aims to open a new path for an extensive research on tsugi by directly engaging these issues. First, the act of tsugi has long been overshadowed by the excessive emphasis on kin 金 [gold] of kintsugi. There are various types of breakage or flaws on ceramic wares not surprising considering their fragile nature. However, not all blemishes or all ceramic wares became the object of tsugi and, even when the technique was applied, various mediums were adopted for mixing with the lacquer adhesive, including silver powder, red lacquer, and black lacquer. Thus, I will concentrate on the act of tsugi rather than kin to discuss why particular ceramic pieces and flaws were chosen to be restored with diverse mediums, and to study how this trend has transformed throughout the history. The other issue relates to tsugi’s secular aspect; past researchers have disregarded the tastes of tea masters, closely intertwined with shogunal governments, under the shadow of Zen Buddhism. The predilection of the major Japanese premodern tea masters, Sen no Rikyū千利休 (1522-1591) and his disciple, Furuta Oribe 古田織部 (1543-1615), for “aleatory aesthetics” and furthered the technique to a distinct style. This talk will research on the rise and development of tsugi within the Japanese shogunal culture from the 16th century to the Edo Period 江戸時代 (1603-1868). Overall, I concentrate on building the “tsugi lineage” anchored in tea masters and their meticulous selection of vessels, cracks, and the specific techniques from the 16th to 19th century.










Teabowl, named shumi (Mountain Sumeru), and Jūmonji (Cross), Joseon Dyansty (1392-1910), Mitsui Bunko Foundation, Tokyo.


Zoom Registration Link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/uZMrceyrrTwrBO3K-iVfU7jYGgswu3rmyg

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


Yoon-Jee Choi is a Ph.D. student whose research revolves around material culture, craftsmanship, and inter-regional dynamics of premodern East Asian art history, particularly concentrating on Korea and Japan. She received her BA in Division of International Studies and History of Art from Ewha Womans University. She has completed her coursework for her MA in History of Art and is currently working on her thesis on Korean monkey paintings during the late Joseon Dynasty. She has interned for the National Museum of Korea and worked as a research assistant for the Asian Museum Institute in Seoul. In 2019 summer, her recent interest in maritime artifiacts led to a summer internship at National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage of Korea.

Sizhao Yi is a PhD student in East Asian art and material culture with a particular interest in objects from late imperial China. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong in 2016, and her MA from the University of Chicago in 2017. Her master’s thesis examined two embroidered jackets excavated from an imperial tomb of the Ming Dynasty, which she encountered during her internship at the textile conservation department in the Archeology Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Alice Casalini, October 30

Wed, October 30, 2019, 4:30-6pm, CWAC 156 (*please note the different time)

Alice Casalini, PhD student, Department of Art History

“A Preliminary Survey of the Swat Valley and the Taxila Region”


In this talk, the presenter will cover materials from the Buddhist sites that she has personally visited during her recent survey trip in Pakistan. The presenter will focus on the Swat valley and on the region of Taxila, highlighting similarities and differences between the monastic establishments within the two areas, in terms of architecture and layout, visual program, and materiality. The ultimate goal is to draw out diagnostic features that would allow the identification of typologies of monastic establishments. Great emphasis will be given to spatial relationships among the different locales within monastic complexes and to the bodily experience of movement within such spaces, but also to locality and positionality within the broader geographical settings of Swat and Taxila.

Alice’s photo from the summer fieldtrip, 2019

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


Alice Casalini received her BA and MA in Language and Civilisation of Asia and Mediterranean Africa from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. During her MA, she spent a total of four terms as an exchange student at the department of Archaeology and Museology of Peking University, where she specialized in Buddhist archaeology of Xinjiang. Her MA thesis focused on the Buddhist caves of the kingdom of Kucha. Her current interests lie in early Buddhist art and architecture of Gandhāra and Northern India.

May 28th, Stanley Abe

Title: Imagining Sculpture
Abstract: In his forthcoming book, Imagining Sculpture, Stanley Abe sketches in narrative form a comparative history of sculpture in the West and China from the fourteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. The comparison is between a fundamental category of fine art in the West and the absence of its equivalent in China. There are few references in Chinese historical texts to renowned sculptors or masterpieces of sculpture. Compared to the lofty arts of the brush—painting and calligraphy—sculpture was considered unrefined and unworthy of praise. There was no great tradition of sculpture in China: no Classical origins, no Renaissance, no neo-classicism, no modern abstraction. The word “sculpture” was not translated into Chinese until the beginning of the twentieth century. Sculpture did not exist in China until modern times.
Of course statues, carvings and figural objects were produced in China for millennia. They were understood as icons, representations, decorations and effigies, and from the nineteenth century some were valued and collected as antiquities. But if figural objects from China are not sculpture, what are they? Is there another way to understand their value? Perhaps not as sculpture but as historical documents? And how might this question help us see the category of sculpture in a different light? These will be the topics of our discussion. A reading is recommended: Stanley Abe, “Sculpture: A Comparative History,” in Comparativism in Art History, ed. Jaś Elsner (London; New York: Routledge, 2017), 94–108).

Ta Ge Chung, Peking purchase

Prof. Pan Li, May 24th

Title: Tsuguharu Fujita’s “Marvelous creamy white”


Abstract: Japanese artist Tsuguharu Fujita (藤田嗣治, 1886—1968) is a member of the “Paris School” in the early 20th century. He created a kind of oil painting that properly blended water with oil. Fujita demonstrated that both oily and water-based paints can be applied on the same painting by drawing thin lines with ink on an ivory-like creamy white background. In Fujita’s technique, the canvas was mostly covered in creamy white, which was called “marvelous creamy white” by art critics in Paris. His unique oriental painting style drew tremendous admiration from Paris. Fujita was the first Asian artist to succeed in Europe, showing to Europeans the charm of “Japanese style oil painting”. Unlike other Japanese students who simply brought the oil painting techniques they learned in Europe back to Japan, Fujita instead immersed himself in the art revolution in Europe with his own inventions. Through the Fujita phenomenon, we can see the relationship between early 20th century Japanese, Chinese, and European art, and the European attitude towards accepting foreign influence.

Tsuguharu Fujita, “Nude Lady in the Bedroom”,

oil painting on canvas, 130cm ×195cm  1922

Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Paris Collection

[Special Joint Event with RAVE] Nancy P. Lin, May 8th

Dear all,
Wednesday, May 8th at 4:30 pm in CWAC 156.
Nancy P. Lin, a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History, will present her paper “Going Outdoors: Keepers of the Waters and Experiments in Site-Based Art Practice in the 1990s.” Dr. Mechtild Widrich, assistant professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will offer a response. There is no pre-circulated paper.
Yin Xiuzhen, Washing River, 1995, performance documentation, Chengdu. Source: Asia Art Archive.