VISUAL AND MATERIAL PERSPECTIVES ON EAST ASIA
NOV 29 (Thursday), 4:30-6:30, CWAC 152
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago
“The Colonial Korean Landscape and the Sketch Tour”
This paper will focus on the landscapes of colonial Korea by Japanese artists who participated in the “sketch tour” during the first decade of the colonial occupation (1910-1945). After the annexation of Korea in 1910, Japanese artists such as Maeda Seison (1885-1977), Tsuji Kakō (1871-1931), and Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958), traversed across the recently formed colonial empire as they collectively took part in the utopian project of modernism. Working in both oil painting and the more traditional nihonga style, these artists documented their travels in paintings that were exhibited in official art venues in Japan but also published their thoughts and impressions in art journals, newspapers, and lavishly illustrated sketch travel books. They traveled through city centers and visited famous natural wonders such as the Diamond Mountains, producing a variety of sketches, prints, and writings that were published upon their return to Japan. These images and texts will be examined to in order discuss how artists functioned as crucial cultural agents as they moved across expanded boundaries and their influence went far beyond the aesthetic realm, helping to shape the image of the Other. This paper will ask the following questions: What socio-cultural frameworks impinged upon their thoughts and works? Was there a practice of strategic essentialism, defining their respective identities to their audiences? Was there a question of authenticity in the roles as cultural translators? By this, I mean to ask how their affiliation to their homeland were readily apparent in their depictions of the other landscape and the foreign environs in which they were surrounded. These questions will be addressed in order to examine how the modern artist negotiated the concepts of the Self and Other within the visual culture of the colonial empire.
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