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Visual + Material Culture Seminar Series – Fall 2018

This interdisciplinary seminar series is for anyone with interests in visual and material culture across different departments at UBC and beyond. The seminar provides an opportunity to share research and exchange ideas, usually followed by conversations over a drink at Koerner’s Pub. Open to students, staff, faculty and community members in and around UBC.

Where: Room 213, Located near the MOA administrative reception past the MOA café.
When: Every other Thursday, 4 – 5 pm
Conveners: Dr. Fuyubi Nakamura, MOA Curator, Asia, Dr. Nuno Porto, MOA Curator, Africa + Latin America and Dr. Anne Murphy, UBC Asian Studies

Open to all, and free. No registration required.

If you have questions, please contact Fuyubi Nakamura at fuyubi.nakamura@ubc.ca.

 

Fall 2018 series

September 13, 2018: African Multiversities: Explorations Into the Display of Collections From Africa and its Diasporas at MOA. Speaker: Nuno Porto, MOA Curator, Africa and South America, UBC

September 27, 2018: Repeating and Rhyming after the Past: Textile Reconstructions in the Deccan. Speaker: Rajarshi Sengupta, PhD candidate, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

October 11, 2018: The Pleasures and Perils of Hong Kong Pulp Fiction. Speaker: Christopher Rea, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, UBC

October 25, 2018: Artist: Functions and Forms of History and Subjectivity. Speaker: Catherine M. Soussloff, Professor, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

November 8, 2018: Speculative Cartography in Japan: Drawings of Cities Through an Objective and Subjective Lens. Speaker: Mari Fujita, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, UBC

November 22, 2018: Patterns of Consumption: Indian Dress and Colonial Society, 1770-1850. Speaker: Tara Mayer, Instructor, Department of History, UBC

 


September 13, 2018—African Multiversities: Explorations Into the Display of Collections From Africa and its Diasporas at MOA

Speaker: Nuno Porto, MOA Curator, Africa and South America, UBC

Saint George and the Dragon, Amhara painting, before1974. MOA collection: Ca42.

This presentation is based on a proposal for the display of the collections from Africa and its diasporas in MOA’s Multiversity Galleries. As conceptualized by Paulo Wangoola and Claude Alvares, the term multiversity refers to the perception of the world as plural, and to the notion that multiple forms of knowledge coexist, including western ones. Incorporating the notion of multiversity in the classification and description of collections is a welcome challenge, particularly if it provides a platform to relate the behind-the-scenes museum work with public outcomes, and enables the displays themselves to act as comments on contemporary issues in Africa and elsewhere. What margin is there, in a part of the museum functioning as a kind of display-storage area, to work towards an ethnography of colonial absences and contemporary emergences in African cultural processes? What possibilities are opened by making exhibitions and museum work decolonial practices? How can an engagement with local partners boost the museum’s global influence?

 

 

September 27, 2018—Repeating and Rhyming after the Past: Textile Reconstructions in the Deccan

Speaker: Rajarshi Sengupta, PhD candidate, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

A double-ikat Telia Rumal (left), 2000s, Chirala, Andhra Pradesh; a double-ikat rumal (right) made by Lakshmipathy Gajam, 1980s, MOA collection: 2737/3.

This presentation builds on three post-independence textile projects in India’s Deccan region to emphasize the key features of material reconstructions undertaken by the textile practitioners. The reconstruction of certain practices occurred in the response to socio-economic changes, for example Activist-practitioner Suraiya Hasan and master weaver Umar Syed’s revival of Himroo textiles in the 1980s was triggered by the migration of brocade weavers to Pakistan and the decline of ikat weaving in the historical town of Chirala prompted master weaver Gajam Govardhana to transplant this technique to Puttapaka and Pochampally in the 1970s.  Similarly, activist-scholar Uzramma established a sustained farmer-artisanal organizational system to support the indigenous modes of cotton farming and distribution in the 1990s. The presenter suggests, these three material reconstruction projects embody an interdisciplinary methodology drawing on artisanal and scholarly knowledge structures which connects the scholarly pursuits of knowledge with sustaining indigenous livelihoods.

 

 

October 11, 2018—The Pleasures and Perils of Hong Kong Pulp Fiction

Speaker: Christopher Rea, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, UBC

Blue Cover Detective Magazine, Hong Kong, c. 1960s. Photo courtesy of Dr. Sai-Shing Yung.

What did people read for pleasure in mid-century Hong Kong? Chances are that on the tram, on the bus, or surreptitiously tucked between the pages of a textbook one would find one of the city’s thousands of pulp fiction publications: perhaps a magazine like Martial Arts World or Crime World or Blue Cover Detective Magazine or the “men’s magazine” Mini; or maybe a “three-dime” paperback like Liu Yichang’s Lust Under the Coconut Palms or Du Ning’s Ten Years of Bitter Love. Come hear UBC professor Christopher Rea talk about the lasting influence of these beloved and reviled mass culture products, from the 1950s to today.

 

 

 

October 25, 2018—Artist: Functions and Forms of History and Subjectivity

Speaker: Catherine M. Soussloff, Professor, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

Joan Miró, Self-Portrait, 1937-1960.

The image of the artist inheres to art’s history through both discursive and material means, the outlines of which will be delineated in this essay particularly in regard to artist in the world today.  Named artists appear in writings on art and architecture since antiquity in the European and Asian traditions. The concept of art in history cannot be easily imagined without the artist, notwithstanding the more expansive field known today as global visual culture, which includes material objects and practices not formerly considered art.  The name of the individual artist insures autonomy and originality, although the recent art practices related to digital media, “relational,” and environmental intentions pressure the concept of the singular creator and put her/him in potential conflict with the global economy for art.

 

 

November 8, 2018—Speculative Cartography in Japan: Drawings of Cities Through an Objective and Subjective Lens

Speaker: Mari Fujita, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, UBC

Central Tokyo, A Study of Scale & Density, by Luke Hewitt, 2018.

“How many maps, in the descriptive or geographical sense might be needed to deal exhaustively with a given space, to code and decode all of its meanings and contents?” – Lefebvre

The act of making maps, reading maps, traveling with maps, and imagining a space through a map, was popularized in the Edo period in Japan. Japanese cartography developed from a combination of techniques from China and the West. As a result, maps that were produced starting in the Edo period were highly accurate and served as excellent instruments of ‘path-finding’. At the same time, many of these same maps contained elements of ‘place-initiation’: historical and cultural knowledge in the form of imagery or text. This seminar will engage with historical Japanese maps as a starting point to consider the potential for contemporary maps to combine information that is path-finding (objective) and place-initiation (subjective).

 

November 22, 2018—Patterns of Consumption: Indian Dress and Colonial Society, 1770-1850

Speaker: Tara Mayer, Instructor, Department of History, UBC

Portrait of Capt. John Foote, by Joshua Reynolds, oil on canvas, c. 1765.

In the early days of European colonial rule in India, Europeans communicated cultural identity and authority, both to an Indian population and among themselves, using a sartorial vocabulary. However, India did far more than provide Europeans with new styles of dress, new techniques for textile production, and new raw materials. South Asian material culture and modes of display furnished Europeans with an entirely new idiom of sartorial expression. In this presentation, a close analysis of British portraits and patterns of consumption in India from roughly 1770 to1850 reveals the myriad ways in which the adoption of Indian dress served to create new identities for individual Britons within their own domestic society: as travellers, adventurers, authors, poets or connoisseurs. In doing so, this presentation offers a critique of simplistic binaries between metropolitan and colonial spheres and sheds a critical light on social and class tensions within British society.