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Visual + Material Culture Seminar Series – Spring 2020

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 2020 series

January 16: “A Contrast in De-Cadence”: The Visual Paratexts of Eileen Chang’s Celebrity in 1940s Shanghai” with Renren Yang, Assistant Professor of modern Chinese popular culture, Asian Studies, UBC

January 30: “Artspeak Gallery: Exhibitions as text, curatorial practice as propositional thinking” with Bopha Chhay, Director/Curator, Artspeak

February 13: “L’arbre est dans ses feuilles (The Tree is in its Leaves)” with Althea Thauberger, Assistant Professor, Art History, Visual Art and Theory, UBC

February 27: “The Art of Mediums” with Lin Xin, A visiting scholar, Art History, Visual Art and Theory, UBC

March 12: “Islamophobia and Affectual Politics of Displacement and Dispossession of Muslims in contemporary India” with Wajiha Mehdi, PhD student, Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, UBC

March 26 (POSTPONED to November 26, 2020):Mapping the City: Public Histories and the Shifting Landscape of Vancouver” with Caitlin Gordon-Walker, Honorary Research Associate and sessional instructor, Anthropology, UBC

 


January 16, 2020—A Contrast in De-Cadence”: The Visual Paratexts of Eileen Chang’s Celebrity in 1940s Shanghai

Speaker: Renren Yang, Assistant Professor of modern Chinese popular culture, Asian Studies, UBC

The book cover of Eileen Chang’s Romances (1946)

Eileen Chang (1920-1995), aka Zhang Ailing, shot to stardom in 1940s wartime Shanghai and won a cult status in modern Chinese literature. This talk situates Chang’s rise to fame within the paradigm shift from books to periodicals and explores how the idiosyncratic designs of her book covers, photographic portraits, and graphic illustrations provoke a resonance of intimacy and secrecy, contributing to the aura of her authorship. Scholars have discussed how Chang implements her well-known and self-named creative principle—“a contrast in de-cadence” (cenci de duizhao)—in her fictions. This talk, by contrast, demonstrates how this aesthetic “imprimatur,” initiated as a visual metaphor, gets fortified across visual sites paratextual to her verbal artifacts. By examining the contrasts, contracts, and contacts enacted by paratextual visuality at times of war and chaos, this talk argues that Chang’s “contrast in de-cadence” functions as a tuner to temper the otherwise eye-dazzling or ear-piercing discordances in the advent of Chinese modernity.

 

January 30, 2020—Artspeak Gallery: Exhibitions as text, curatorial practice as propositional thinking

Speaker: Bopha Chhay, Director/Curator, Artspeak

‘Kw’eskw’ás stl’a7shn’ Anne Riley and Cease Wyss event as part of Laiwan’s ‘Maple Tree Spiral: pedagogy of a tree in the city’, image courtesy of Artspeak, 2019.

With a mandate to encourage dialogue between visual arts and writing practices, the programming at Artspeak Gallery has been asking ‘How do we change the language we use to speak about artistic practice and institutions within the context of wider socio-political concerns?’ Our location in Gastown/ Downtown Eastside is significant in consideration of what our responsibilities are to acknowledging and reconfiguring our relationship to place. Approaching how we conceive of what constitutes ‘public(s)’ has been at the forefront of how our programming has attempted to shift our use of language and therefore the narratives and the voices we want to give space to. The past year has seen different frameworks and emergent methodologies of engagement to collectively imagine, produce, self-organize and speak. This has included expanded practices engaging more sensorial forms of artistic practice and production, critical methods of unlearning and listening together to further open up institutional boundaries.

 

February 13, 2020—L’arbre est dans ses feuilles (The Tree is in its Leaves)

Speaker: Althea Thauberger, assistant professor, Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, UBC

Althea Thauberger, Althea, Lorraine, Index, Card, 2018.

In 1967/68, the (then) Still Image Division of the National Film Board of Canada, under the leadership of Executive Producer Lorraine Monk, produced two Centennial projects that deployed social documentary photography towards picturing Canadian identity: The People Tree of Expo 67 and the illustrated publications Call them Canadians and Ces visages qui sont un pays. Thauberger will discuss these projects and their historical and ongoing significance, as well as her own artistic explorations in their associated archives.

 

February 27, 2020—The Art of Mediums

Lin Xin, The Order of Bugs No.3, 2016. Electronic Imaging Installation. Photo: Lin Xin Studio

Speaker: Lin Xin, visiting scholar, Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, UBC

Art has humanized techniques, and techniques have shaped art. Medium binds art and techniques. The characteristics and speed of development of the medium directly affect the presentation of art works. Furthermore, the choice and the processing of the materials directly reflects an artist’s views and ways of thinking. Lin Xin’s work explores the characteristics of digital media as her core practice, strategically disrupting the border of the digital space and physical reality, whilst intersecting with the medium of oil painting, multimedia and interactive installations. Through contemplating the creation and presentation of her work, she will be discussing characteristics of materials and their social significance in the eyes of the artist, in addition to their symbiotic relationship to the artist’s life and growth.

 

March 12—Islamophobia and Affectual Politics of Displacement and Dispossession of Muslims in contemporary India

Speaker: Wajiha Mehdi, PhD student, Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, UBC

Refugees at a camp in Delhi waiting in line for water; news photo from 1947 (original caption). Source: ebay, Nov 2010. Wikimedia Commons.

Feminist scholars have argued that spatial matters are bodily matters. Geographies of dominance are then based on not only how differences are determined on the bodies of others but also defined through emotional encounters with others to differentiate the familial from the stranger. This talk will address the affectual politics of displacement and dispossession of Muslims in contemporary India where Muslims are being placed outside the ‘nation-state.’ What are the linkages between nationalism and pathologizing of Muslims as the ‘Other’? This talk will address the relationship between the transhistorical and transnational linkages between the violence of western imperialist nationalisms and violent nationalisms of postcolonial nations that together construct Muslims as particular object of violence that manifests centuries old Orientalist tradition. Moreover, this talk will engage with how the violence perpetrated against both male and female Muslim bodies simultaneously exaggerates and undoes notions of heteronormative nationalism.

 

March 26 (POSTPONED to November 26, 2020)—Mapping the City: Public Histories and the Shifting Landscape of Vancouver

Speaker: Caitlin Gordon-Walker, Honorary Research Associate and sessional instructor, Anthropology, UBC

Rosemary Brown (1930-2003) First Black Canadian woman to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature. Photo by C. Gordon-Walker.

This presentation will discuss a new and ongoing research project inquiring into past and current changes in the representation of Vancouver’s pasts within the city’s landscape. While this project considers the work of museums and other official heritage sites, such as public art and efforts to (re)name public spaces, it also examines the dialogue between these and the wider places and lives in which they play a part. Presenting some initial findings from the first phase of the project, Hindsight is 20/20, it will highlight some of the tensions between official heritage discourses, often linked to themes of redress and reconciliation within a nationalist framework, and the diverse experience of living in the city, in which various actors (re)claim and/or dispute the past and articulate differing understandings of what the city’s histories mean for the present.