|9 May 2012
|5:00pm - 6:30pm
|Faculty of English, 9 West Road
Humanitas Visiting Professor in Chinese Studies 2012
The Humanitas Chair in Chinese Studies has been made possible by the generous support of Sir David Tang.
Professor Wu Hung
Wu Hung (Harrie A Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago) will give a series of three public lectures on Reading Absence in Chinese Art and Material Culture and participate in a concluding symposium on Writing, Art and Chinese Culture.
This series of lectures explores the methodological potential of 'reading absence'. Here 'absence' is understood in a dialectical relationship between depicting and de-picting. The general idea is that instead of providing visual information about the subjects represented, certain images, installations, and performances deliberately erase or withhold such information. Since such phenomena are seen throughout the history of world art, we need to explore the reason for creating such works as 'empty signs' and their expected reception. The three lectures use this approach to discuss three groups of examples from traditional and contemporary Chinese art. Throughout these lectures, 'reading absence' is meant to explain the tension between presence and absence as a specific artistic and art historical phenomenon. While providing a particular angle to analyze works of art, such reading also leads to new contextual and historical interpretation.
The first lecture Pillow and Mirror: Absence as Subjectivity focuses on portable objects, exemplified by the ceramic pillow and the bronze mirror. Through analyzing their forms, decoration, and related literature, it suggests that what makes a mirror or pillow an interesting object or 'thing' is its implied subjectivity. In its own existence, a mirror or pillow is a permanent reminder of the missing subject. It is always waiting to be reunited with the subject, but the reunion is always fleeting and never leaves physical traces. The decoration on a mirror or pillow does not fulfill such lack, but only translates desire into symbolic images.
Further events in this series:
The lectures are free and open to all, no registration required.
About Wu Hung
Wu Hung is Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Chinese Art History, Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia, and the Consulting Curator of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. An elected member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has published widely on both traditional and contemporary Chinese art. His major works in traditional art include The Wu Liang Shrine: The Ideology of Early Chinese Pictorial Art (1989), Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation in Chinese Painting (1996), Liyi zhongde meishu (Art in its ritual context, 2 vols., 2005), Meishushi shiyi (Ten discourses on art history, 2008), Shikong zhong de meishu (Art in time and space, 2009), and The Art of the Yellow Springs: Understanding Chinese Tombs (2010). In the field of contemporary art, he has curated many influential exhibitions, and has written books and catalogues including Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century (1999), Exhibiting Experimental Art in China (2000), Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Art in China (1990-2000) (2002), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Politic Space (2005), and Making History: Wu Hung on Contemporary Art (2008).
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