Université de Genève
The Oblique Space in Japanese Visual Culture: Folding Screens, Books and Fans
Ein Vortrag im Rahmen der Ringvorlesung „Ostasiatische Kunstgeschichte: Aktuelle Forschung in Europa / East Asian Art History: Current Research in Europe“ Gefördert vom Center for International Cooperation der FU Berlin
Dienstag, 14. Februar 2023, 16–18 Uhr c.t.
Hörsaal B, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Koserstr. 20, 14195 Berlin
Screens within Screens, 18th century, Japan.
Pair of six-panel folding screens, ink, color, and gold on gilt paper, each 170 × 376 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Japanese folding screen is a type of object that is much less known to the public than prints, both in terms of its formal and technical characteristics, its functions, and its history. It is generally intended to be erected vertically slightly folded. It is therefore not a flat image, but a three-dimensional object. The “oblique space” of the screen contrasts with the European figure of the “trompe-l’oeil” which unfolds on a generally flat surface and is visible in its entirety at first glance. Like the book and the folding fan, the screen constitutes a medium structured by its folds and the obliqueness of its planes, characterized by an obvious discontinuity, which the painters anticipate in their compositions: the motifs respond to one another from one panel to another, or even from one screen to another in the case of pairs, they hide or reveal themselves to the gaze of a mobile spectator, invited to an active exercise of unveiling which is similar to that of reading.
I will focus on this theme from a recently published book, edited by Anne-Marie Christin and coordinated by myself and Terada Torahiko from the Tokyo University.
Claire-Akiko Brisset is currently Full Professor in Japanese studies at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and focuses on Japanese cultural history with a strong interest in cryptography, anthropology of writing, visual culture, written culture (premodern period) and film studies. She is the author of À la croisée du texte et de l’image: paysages cryptiques et poèmes cachés (ashide) dans le Japon classique et médiéval (2009), and co-translator of major Japanese classical texts (Shaka no
honji, Mumyôshô, Shuhanron, Kaidôki, etc.), as well as contemporary Japanese scientific literature (Tsuji Nobuo, etc.). She is also the co-editor of numerous books dealing with Japanese epic, writing history and culture, visual culture and, most recently, with Japanese folding screens (Anne-Marie Christin [ed], Paravents japonais. Par la brèche des nuages, 2021, with an English and an Italian edition).