Graduate Seminar: Display and Exhibition in Japan/Objects as Things and Events
Tuesday | 2:00 - 5:00pm
What do display (a placeholder for contexts separate from the modern museum and gallery) and exhibition offer critical study of “Japanese art,” ancient to contemporary? Put to the task of listing such spaces—and thinking of events as much as things—we might begin with the following:
Religious enshrinement and ritual; funerals/memorials and icon unveilings (kaichō, degaichō); imperial/aristocratic collections (e.g. Shōsōin, Reizeike) and elite access; airings (bakuryō, mushiboshi) of court, warrior, and temple-shrine treasures; Shogunal visits (onari) and display of continental art objects; Chakai and tea utensil ensembles; Meiji period exhibitions (hakurankai), national patrimony, and public viewing; Japan at the World’s Fairs; modern official painting exhibitions (Inten, Bunten); exhibitions of “Japanese folk art;” alternative happenings, street theater, and avant-garde performance; postwar overseas loan exhibitions of Japanese art; Japanese artists at the Venice Biennial and other invitational shows…
By whom, how, and why have these categories of display/exhibition been configured and enacted, and what sorts of objects (materials, styles, identities, ontologies, histories) do they depend on, make visible (or hide), and empower? How do they operate in relationship to art theory/discourse, histories of collecting, gender, class, race-ethnicity, art world economies, and nationalism? To what ends (creative, ritual, relational, performative, social, and ideological) are these events organized? How do objects “program” response? Who curates, views, reviews, or challenges?
Study of selected case studies will proceed from primary texts and representations (diaries and documents, treatises, newspapers, art criticism, exhibition catalogs; photographic representation, ethnography…) alongside comparative cases outside Japan and critical writings in visual studies and museology. Participants will prepare weekly critical responses and presentations, and (for 4 units) complete a contained object/site-focused research project and formal written essay. The seminar may be taken for 2 units. Advanced undergraduates with prior course work in art history may apply to participate with a brief explanation of interest and the course’s relevance to major area(s).