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Visual + Material Culture Seminar Series – Spring 2019

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.

Spring 2019 series

January 10, 2019: The Work of Memory: Contemporary Artists Engage the Severed Past along the Indo-Pakistan Border. Speakers: Anne Murphy, Associate Professor, Asian Studies, UBC + Raghavendra Rao K.V., Visual Artist

January 24, 2019: Beyond Culture: A Conversation about African Canadian History and Futures in British Columbia. Speaker: Stephanie Allen, Hogan’s Alley Society and Candidate in Master’s in Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University

February 7, 2019: Mother Tongue, Motherland: Language in the Work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Speaker: Alice Choi, PhD candidate, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

February 28, 2019: Heritage and the Punjabi Landscape: UBC Undergraduates Explore the Practice of Memory in Punjab, India. Speakers: UBC Undergraduate participants in UBC Go Global Program at Punjabi University, Patiala

March 21, 2019: ‘The Ladder of Art lies Flat’: Yolngu Art and Discourse on Abstraction. Speaker: Howard Morphy, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The Australian National University

March 28, 2019: Speaking Truth to Materials: Feminist and Queer Designs for Living, 1970 to now. Speaker: Erin Silver, Assistant Professor, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

 


January 10, 2019—The Work of Memory: Contemporary Artists Engage the Severed Past along the Indo-Pakistan Border

Speakers: Anne Murphy, Associate Professor, Asian Studies, UBC + Raghavendra Rao K.V., Visual Artist

Work-in-progress by Krishna Luchomon, Creative Interruptions Artist Residency, Preetnagar.

This talk, delivered jointly by Anne Murphy and Raghavendra Rao K.V., addresses memory work along the Indo-Pakistan border that attempts to call to mind a once-shared culture that now is divided by an international boundary. The focus of the presentation is work completed in an international artists’ residency in October/November 2018 that were a part of a larger program of work entitled Creative Interruptions, supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council UK grant with leading partner Strathclyde University, Scotland. An exhibition will follow in February 2019. The work will be placed in the context of a broader effort to integrate the arts and research in addressing cultural history and the quest to remember that has been pursued locally through the South Asian Canadian Histories Association, which was co-founded by Murphy and Rao in 2016 with several others.

 

January 24, 2019—Beyond Culture: A Conversation about African Canadian History and Futures in British Columbia

Speaker: Stephanie Allen, Hogan’s Alley Society and Candidate in Master’s in Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University

Artistic rendering of the New Hogan’s Alley (Perkins + Will / City of Vancouver)

On the surface, the history of Hogan’s Alley tells a tragic tale of a Black community interrupted by the aspiration of modernity, of the less powerful getting caught in the urban growth machine. But digging deeper into the past reveals Canada’s enduring anti-Black politics situated within a settler colony established by and for a white patriarchal society. Through a racial and gendered lens we’ll take a re-look at Hogan’s Alley and the systemic destruction of Black families, neighbourhoods, and cultural assets in urban Canada. It challenges the characterization of Canadian identity as one based on tolerance and multi-culturalism, and offers a connection between the treatment of marginalized communities and the widening equity gap in the name of economic development.  We will also look at the interventions being conducted by the Hogan’s Alley Society in Vancouver to disrupt status quo real estate development towards models of shared equity and community land stewardship as a means of building more just cities.

 

 

February 7, 2019—Mother Tongue, Motherland: Language in the Work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Speaker: Alice Choi, PhD candidate, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Cover of Dictee (1982), Second Edition 2009. Courtesy of the University of California Press.

This paper examines the significance of language in the work of Korean-born artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-82). Through a reading of her groundbreaking publication Dictée (1982), and selected works from performance pieces to artist books, I argue that the artist’s emphasis on language drew upon her specific position as a Korean diasporic subject born out of the complex history of colonial Korea and its aftermath. Whereas Cha’s work has most often been discussed within the context of Asian American studies, my approach focuses on the colonial history that the artist spoke of time after time throughout her work. In particular, I unpack Cha’s frequent references to blood, mother tongue, and motherland within the context of the “national language movement” that was part of imperial Japan’s series of measures collectively known as kōminka (imperialization). In doing so, this paper aims to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of Cha’s oeuvre.

 

February 28, 2019—Heritage and the Punjabi Landscape: UBC Undergraduates Explore the Practice of Memory in Punjab, India

Speaker: UBC Undergraduate participants in UBC Go Global Program at Punjabi University, Patiala

Darbar Sahib/Harmandir Sahib/Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, India

This presentation will feature UBC undergraduates taking part in a Go Global international research conference in February 2019 in Patiala and Amritsar, Punjab, India, that explores the meaning and practice of “Heritage” in the Indian state of Punjab. Conducted in collaboration with Punjabi University, Patiala (PUP) and including students from both institutions, the program centers on interactions with local artists and heritage specialists; visits to heritage sites; and exploration of an exhibition on view in the village of Preet Nagar, near the India/Pakistan border, which was founded in the 1930s as an intentional artistic and intellectual community. The exhibition engages with the legacy of Partition, the division of the cultural and linguistic region of Punjab into the post-colonial states of India and Pakistan.

 

March 21, 2019—‘The Ladder of Art lies Flat’: Yolngu Art and Discourse on Abstraction

Speaker: Howard Morphy, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The Australian National University

Narritjin Maymuru, Two Nyapililngu ancestral women, 1966. Courtesy of Buku Larrngay Mulka.

The relationship between figuration and abstraction is central to understanding the art of the Yolngu, an Australian Aboriginal people from Arnhem Land. The tendency to see modernism as a movement towards abstraction has made it difficult to separate abstraction as a general feature of artistic practice from its function as a label in western art history. A dialogue between figuration and abstraction has always been integral to Yolngu art practice, yet contemporary art world discourse tends to position the abstract in Yolngu art in the present and the figurative in the past. Reflecting on the place of abstraction in Yolngu art requires shifting the definition of abstraction away from the sense it has had in recent western art history. Abstraction is not necessarily an end point expressed in a particular formal trajectory. In the words of the Australian artist Margaret Preston (1875-1963), an advocate for modernism and for Aboriginal art, ‘the ladder of art lies flat’.

 

March 28, 2019—Speaking Truth to Materials: Feminist and Queer Designs for Living, 1970 to now

Speaker: Erin Silver, Assistant Professor, Art History, Visual Art & Theory, UBC

Photo courtesy of Erin Silver.

This talk takes select North American contemporary feminist and queer art practices as springboards for a broader consideration of artistic preoccupations with the blend of craft, design, and art with social, political, and economic ideology: I consider the Italian design collective Superstudio, the Los Angeles Feminist Studio Workshop and Graphic Art Center, the Italian design group Memphis Group, and the 1983 Toronto exhibition Chromaliving in relation to the deeply tactile practices of contemporary queer artists in Vancouver, Toronto, and New York, whereby specific objects, evacuated of function, produce “designs for living.” Both confronting and resisting discourse around “purity” of form and “truth to materials,” I reflect on how a new generation of feminist and queer artists extend a legacy whereby it is precisely in the deeply tactile and learned relationship to materials and the embodied experience of making that a new form arises.