Japanese Art in the Ecological Predicament (Ghent 26-29 août 2020)

The 16th International Conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies Ghent (August 26 – 29, 2020).

Session: Japanese Art in the Ecological Predicament: Collaborations in the Age of Crisis
Organizers: Sophie Guo (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Theresa Deichert (Heidelberg University)

In Japan, a country plagued frequently by a multitude of reoccurring natural and subsequent man-made disasters, the force of nature is ever present. However, surprisingly the field of ecocriticism and ecologically conscious cultural research are mostly still nascent as compared to the West. While recent years have seen publications such as Ecocriticism in Japan (Hisaaki Wake, Keijiro Suga and Yuki Masami 2018), especially Japanese contemporary art remains largely understudied in the context of its ecological engagement.

With such contemporary art formats as art projects and regional art on the rise in Japan, the limelight has been mostly on collaborative art that engages in practices of disaster aftercare and community revitalization. However, concurrently collaborative practices taking on an event structure or/and going beyond the confinement of traditional white cube galleries and museum spaces have developed and since the early 2000s, visual art practitioners in Japan increasingly deploy variegated forms of working together as a critical gesture towards ecological crisis. The latter have also been previously overlooked in Japan due to dynamics of censorship and an environment mostly hostile to critical art practices. In an effort to provide space and visibility for such up and coming artistic practices, this panel welcomes papers that consider collaboration(s) in visual art, including media art, science fiction, film, video game, photography, design, crafts, and architecture, in the context of ecological crisis. Questions and aspects may be addressed but are not limited to:

–    What unique strategies and practices have Japanese artists developed and employed in the context of the countries’ turbulent natural and ecological history?
–    How does collaboration in Japanese art move beyond traditional art spaces and take place in unconventional territories, such as virtual space or the streets?
–    How does collaboration in Japanese art facilitate positive exchange/ change to tackle ecological crisis and its related problems?
–    In which ways do Japanese contemporary artists consider non and more than-human actors within collaborative practices?
–    How is a posthuman subjectivity (in the sense of, for example, Rosi Braidotti) forged in the process of collaboration?
–    How do nature narratives such as those of, for example, Shinto fashion within artistic practices?
–    How can contemporary ecological art in Japan be contextualized art historically?

Please send a paper abstract of no more than 350 words to theresa.deichert@hcts.uni-heidelberg.de and xiaofei.guo@courtauld.ac.uk with a short bio by 20 January 2020.


Cecile Laly

CREOPS (Université Paris-Sorbonne), International Research Center for Japanese Studies

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