The discovery of photography played a key role in the growth of learning about remote areas, as it allowed for the capture and faithful interpretation of reality. Articles and news in periodicals and book publications of travelogues were suddenly completed with shots whose authenticity could not be disputed. Photography, one of the most important inventions of the 19th century, became an important milestone in the knowledge of new regions and their inhabitants, culture and lifestyle. Only a few years after the creation of the first daguerreotypes, the first attempts at their recreation were made in the Far East. At the same time, European and American photographers made their way there thanks to the so-called “open ports” and set up their own photographic studios, where their assistants familiarized themselves better with the technology of photography. This transfer of knowledge gave rise to a new generation of domestic photographers that was very familiar with the technological possibilities of photography and the contemporary technological methods, but also brought new inspiration into their photographic work which followed up on the domestic art tradition.
Photography and visual documentation soon essential sources of information about Asian countries, the different nations there, and a contemporary testimony about historical events. Photography made it possible to learn about new worlds and find out more about remote regions from the comfort of one’s home. Thanks to travellers, diplomats, merchants, correspondents for European or American periodicals, sailors at commercial ships or warships, or simply just adventurers, the medium of photography gradually made its way to other places around the world, as part of memories of distant journeys or as part of the newly emerging collection fonds. Nevertheless, these activities did not only take place within the colonial powers such as England or France, but they also started to be undertaken more frequently in what were more or less peripheries, such as Central and Eastern Europe, Germany, Italy or Austria-Hungary.
The phenomenon of Asian photography, or photography in the Asian genre or with local themes was not at the centre of attention of specialized workers and curators for a very long time. Only over the past 20 years, the phenomenon was rehabilitated and studied more in depth, especially in Western Europe and America, thanks also to the commercial interests of artistic or antiquarian auctions and jumble sales. However, the region of Central and Eastern Europe has only been involved marginally with this research. That is why the organizers of this symposium have formulated several questions and study topics that could be discussed at the symposium.
They are, above all:
How is Asian photographic documentation and reproduction currently evaluated and classified? What is the role of a mediator – curator in the organisation and creation of inventory fonds of memory institutions? What is the point of view on this transfer of knowledge resulting from the status of the volatile medium itself? What resonance does this transfer of knowledge have in Asian destinations? Are period photographs really just souvenir items without any artistic value? Who actually were the collectors of these items and for what purpose did they gather them? This symposium will attempt to answer some of these questions.
13:45 Registration – Welcome – Introduction
14:00–14:50 Keynote speech I
● LUKE GARTLAN
Trading Places: Business and the Materials of Meiji Photography.
School of Art History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland
Trading Places: Business and the Materials of Meiji Photography
Photography in Asia has grown remarkably as an area of academic and curatorial attention in recent decades. Exhibitions, publications, and conferences have highlighted long neglected archives of photographs and enriched past understandings of photographers’ careers and markets at the domestic and international level. Understandably, the relative neglect of important archives and photographers active in nineteenth-century Asia has prompted a desire to resurrect and reconstitute careers, activities, and bodies of work. This is an ongoing process demonstrated by the current conference that has become integral to scholarship on Asia’s multiple visual histories.
Photographs as objects of display and analysis may seem indispensable to this project, but this paper argues for a wider consideration of the business practices and materials essential to photography in the writing of its history. Taking Meiji-era photography as its case study, this paper considers alternative approaches to photography’s history beyond the photograph within frameworks of the business, trade, and manufacture of photographic equipment and chemical materials. In particular, I want to argue for dialogues with other related fields of intellectual enquiry, including histories of business and chemical manufacture that are inseparable from photography’s rise to commercial prominence in nineteenth-century Japan, and indeed elsewhere in Asia. What sources are available to pursue such histories of photography’s material requisites? And to what extent did the business of photography and its materials become contested with the formation of the modern nation-state’s own structures and institutions?
15:00–17:00 Panel I
Archetypes – Stereotypes – Genres – Variability – Identity
Chair: Burglind Jungmann
● BING WANG
Street Cries in China from British Photographers’ Lens: Inheritance and Evolution
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, USA
Street Cries in China from British Photographers’ Lens: Inheritance and Evolution
As part of greater ethnological and colonial interest in and ambitions for local life and characters, occupational types flourished as a genre in early photographs of China. In this paper examining images of this genre made by early China-based British photographers, including William Floyd (1834–ca. 1900) and John Thomson (1837–1921), I discuss visual sources, compositional alterations, and possible narratives of these images.
On the one hand, these works fit within both British and Chinese pictorial traditions of urban itinerant hawkers and cries. Thematic and compositional overlaps can be observed among these photographs and earlier images produced both in Britain and China, such as Marcellus Laroon’s (British, 1653–1702) Cryes of the City of London (1688), Fang Xun’s (Chinese, 1737–1799) Taiping huanle tu ce (1779), and Pu Qua’s (Chinese, around 1800) gouaches on occupations in Canton (1792). These works, across medium and cultures, share visual formulas depicting individual peddlers by isolating figures from their environmental context and indicating their specialties by assigning figures with iconic props.
On the other hand, while converting motifs and compositions from earlier printing into a photographic medium, the photographers added figures of a customer. Such alterations reconstruct an iconic moment during the sale process, immersing the occupational figures into their activities. The photographers enhance the sense and illusion of “reality” that this genre intends, as they not only visualize the figure of an isolated itinerant hawker but also suggest a mutually satisfactory bargain as it might have been experienced—both visually and auditorily—in real life.
● MIRJAM DÉNES
Photography and the Changing ‘Image’ of Japan in the Early Illustrated Press.
Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest, Hungary
Photography and the Changing ‘Image’ of Japan in the Early Illustrated Press
The early history of photography, a medium regarded as the most capable of capturing ‘reality’ was linked with the early history of the illustrated newspaper, a medium regarded as the most capable of disseminating visual information to the masses. As soon as photographs from and about the newly reopened Japan found their way to Europe, they were reproduced in innumerate copies, and reached people with different ages, gender, and social stance, indiscriminately, thus becoming important sources of new knowledge.
Such images were, however, in the hands of the editors: they almost never appeared on their own, instead, they were accompanied with text, and thus, they either served an illustrative or an additive purpose to enrich the verbal information. How did the use of photographs as the means of mass media change their original function, meaning and context? How was the visual ‘image’ of Japan shaping in European minds through the nation’s modern history thanks to the rich selection of images and to the conscious editing of publishers? Was there a universal visual ‘stereotype’ in reign, or was the ‘image’ of Japan disseminated by the press differently, country by country?
I will try to answer such questions throughout my talk, based on the outcomes of a research project, which focused on the Japanese imagery of Hungarian illustrated newspapers from 1854 to 1919, the period when interest in Japan sprang in the area of East-Central Europe.
● SEBASTIAN DOBSON
Felice Beato and the Carte-de-visite Photograph in Japan, 1863–1868.
Independent scholar and dealer in nineteenth-century photography, based in the United Kingdom
Felice Beato and the Carte-de-visite Photograph in Japan, 1863-1868
Felice Beato (c.1834-1909) has long been acknowledged as one of the major photographers active in Asia, and in particular Japan, during the nineteenth century. After establishing his studio in the treaty port of Yokohama in the summer of 1863, he spent the next five years creating a portfolio of landscape photographs taken across Japan as well as a series of studio-based studies of Japanese subjects. This stock of Japanese ‘views’ and ‘costumes’, which Beato successfully packaged in his trademark deluxe albums, not only established the parameters within which Japanese souvenir photography operated into the following century but also played an important role in shaping contemporary Western images of Japanese society.
However, while scholarly examination of Beato’s Japanese portfolio has focussed on the work which he produced in larger formats, most notably from 10 x 12 inch (254 x 305 mm) negatives, his equally prolific output in the more modest format of the carte-de-visite (2.25 x 3.5 inches, or 89 x 138 mm) has received considerably less attention from scholars and exhibition organisers. In this paper, I propose to examine this hitherto overlooked part of Beato’s work and evaluate its place in the wider context of early Japanese photography.
● FRANK FELTENS
Towards the Future: Between Photographs and Prints in Meiji Era Japan.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA
Towards the Future: Between Photographs and Prints in Meiji Era Japan
The advent of photography in Japan triggered fundamental shifts in the country’s artistic landscape. The area of Japanese art most heavily affected by the camera was the print industry. The novelty and relative efficiency of the photographic process instigated a rapid decline of traditional print-making, a development that ultimately encouraged artists and print publishers to reinvent the medium. At the end of this process, prints emerged renewed as a modern genre of the arts. Print makers both reacted against and were inspired by photography at equal measure, and photographers punned on visual modalities of traditional woodblock prints.
The impact of photography on the traditional arts of Japan has only recently begun to be the focus of exhibitions and a definitive scholarly examination of the cross-referential nature of early photography and the traditional print industry is still absent. This talk examines how photography served as an instrument to reinvigorate and shape the future direction of traditional Japanese woodblock prints in the second half of the 19th century.
● STEPHANIE TUNG
Power and Perspective: An Upcoming Exhibition on Early Photography in China at the Peabody Essex Museum
17:30–18:30 Keynote speech II
● FILIP SUCHOMEL
…When writing a travelogue, I only record my general impressions, and most of all I buy photographs….
The Creation of the First Photographic Collections from Asia in 19th-Century Central Europe.
Charles University, Prague, Faculty of Arts, KREAS Project, Czech Republic
…When writing a travelogue, I only record my general impressions, and most of all I buy photographs….
The creation of the first photographic collections from Asia in 19th-century Central Europe
The interest in a deeper study of collections of Asian photography has started relatively recently in Central Europe, on a larger scale practically only in the last decade of the 20th century, that is, at a time when collections of other artworks, historical artifacts or ethnographics had long been the subject of the constant interest of experts in many museum and gallery institutions. Photographs were only perceived as auxiliary material without any great historical or even artistic value, even though photographic collections created by the citizens of our Central European nations in the second half of the 19th century, whose collections can still be found in our territory to this day, are no less extensive than those found with our western neighbours. However, how did they make their way into our collections, where can we find their roots and who were the people who collected them for future generations?
The roots of these photographic collections, whether they have survived to this day or whether we only know about them from period sources, have to be looked for with those who were the first to have the chance to visit distant countries, whether privately or in the services of their countries as diplomats, military attachés, or sailors. In the specific case of Central Europe, they were mostly the members of the Prussian (later German) or Austro-Hungarian navy who understood the significance of photography as a means of obtaining relevant information about distant countries. They were soon followed by eminent aristocrats who set out on journeys around the world with the aim of learning about distant countries first-hand. They would buy photographic collections to illustrate their experiences, as proof of their travel activities, but also with the aim of a deeper understanding of the life and culture in the visited destinations.
A distinct group were the traders who went searching for opportunities to earn a solid income in the distant lands; and towards the end of the century also eminent representatives of urban areas, whose visits to the distant lands were made possible by an unparalleled boom in tourism. This lecture will introduce the origins of selected photographic collections in Central Europe in the form of a case study and will also attempt to answer the question of how photography influenced the development of Central European knowledge of the Asian continent at the end of the long 19th century, that is, at a time of quickly developing contacts between Central European states and Asia.
14:00–14:50 Keynote speech III
● BURGLIND JUNGMANN
Chosŏn Entering the International Arena: Three Witnesses.
Professor emerita at UCLA, USA
Adjunct research fellow at Heidelberg University, Germany
Chosŏn Entering the International Arena: Three Witnesses
The late decades of the Chosŏn dynasty are remembered for the country’s inner turbulences and the competition between foreign powers over their dominance on the peninsula. Yet, during the crucial period from the 1880s to the early 1900s, Chosŏn was considered ready to independently enter the international arena. In the roughly twenty-five years between the first treaties with the USA and European countries and 1905, when Japan took charge of Chosŏn’s foreign affairs, Korea sparked the interests of Western diplomats, adventurers and travelers. That it was called the ‘Hermit Nation’ enhanced its attraction as a region to be newly explored.
This talk will present photographs and texts of three witnesses of this period, namely Isabella Bird, Burton Holmes, and Jack London, and analyze their unique perceptions and visual ‘constructions’ of this nation. As their personal backgrounds and the intentions of their visits were quite different, one wonders: how much did their own circumstances influence their visual and textual description of the country, how much do we really learn about Korea, and how did people in Korea respond to these visitors?
15:00–17:00 Panel II
Photographic Collections–Curators, Collectors, Travellers and their Admirers
Chair: Filip Suchomel
● STEFANO TURINA
“Da una fotografia”. Picturing Japan in the Official Account of the First Italian Diplomatic Mission to Japan and China (1875).
Department of Historical Studies, Università degli Studi di Torino,
“Da una fotografia”. Picturing Japan in the
official account of the first Italian diplomatic mission to Japan and China (1875)
The first Italian diplomatic mission to Japan and China occurred in 1866. During the travel the zoologists Filippo de Filippi and his assistant Enrico Hillyer Giglioli were able to collect zoological and botanical specimens, Japanese and Chinese objects, but also photographs in local shops. Since De Filippi died in Hong Kong, Giglioli was designated to
write the official travelogue of the journey, published in 1875: Viaggio intorno al globo della r. pirocorvetta italiana Magenta negli anni 1865-66-67-68. The whole book was illustrated with 88 engravings and 10 plates, mainly obtained from photographs, and the Japanese section contains 9 engravings and a plate “from a photograph” since for the young scientist this new medium was the most reliable source for a scientific publication.
Thanks to the text and the public archives, where the Giglioli collection of photographs are today preserved, it is possible to reconstruct the origin of the Japanese photographs: they were collected at Shimooka Renjō and Felice Beato shops in August 1866 in Yokohama but also sent by local residents or acquired in shops in various cities. Also, the reason of the Giglioli’s final selection of engravings is worth investigating: for example, some were unique on the Italian (and Western) editorial market of that time.
● REBECA GÓMEZ MORILLA
Ambiguous Encounters and Colonial Imaginations – A Swiss Diplomat between Japanese Imperialism, Korean Independence and Swiss Economic Interests.
Rebeca Gómez Morilla
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Ambiguous Encounters and Colonial Imaginations – A Swiss Diplomat between Japanese Imperialism, Korean Independence and Swiss Economic Interests
Studies on Swiss contributions to photographic production within colonial networks have focused on Western dominated colonies in Africa, the Americas and Southeast Asia and little attention has been given to East Asia. This presentation offers the unique opportunity to study Swiss-East Asian entanglements within the colonial context by looking at a hitherto unstudied area, namely Korean photography. By using the case study of Paul Ritter (1865-1921), the first Swiss ambassador to Japan, the presentation examines Ritter’s purpose for his travel to Korea and how he contributes to a global colonial dialogue.
His photographs exemplify the complex, ambiguous and contradicting encounters between Japanese imperial presence, Korean everyday life and the role of Swiss persons as ‘colonial outsiders’. Ritter, who visited Korea in the name of the Swiss Government to locate economic opportunities, shifts between tourist images, ethnographic documentation and official diplomatic duties. His photographs enable us to question Swiss “colonial innocence”, showing how Ritter repurposes Japanese colonial imagery. In doing so, the presentation shows how Japanese, Korean and Swiss identity could only be articulated through oppositional, racialised and gendered discourse. Drawing from Ritter’s photographic collection, official government reports and family documents and correspondences, the study reflects on the complex political and economic interests in East Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
● HELENA ČAPKOVÁ
In the land where only the abstract qualities are permanent – Photographic Collection of Bedřich Feuerstein.
Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
In the land where only the abstract qualities are permanent – Photographic collection of Bedřich Feuerstein
Bedřich Feuerstein (1892-1936) was a Czech avantgarde architect who worked with Antonin Raymond (1888-1976) in his Japanese design office from 1926 to 1930. Feuerstein’s cosmopolitan lifestyle is richly photographically documented in his archive which will be the key resource for this paper. The photographs illustrate not only his travels, but also, they serve as a testimony to his aesthetic preferences and interests in terms of Japanese architecture and design. Japanese architecture represented for him not only a certain aesthetic ideal, but also a model for dignified social living. Feuerstein was seeking for a particular imagery and images to present in his talks that he was already planning while in Japan and that he later gave and published.
This paper will also provide the context to Feuerstein’s efforts in finding modern architecture in Japan and present it via photographs to Czech audiences. Architectural photography of the interwar period in Japan was closely related and practiced by architects themselves, for example by Kishida Hideto (1899-1966) or Yamawaki Iwao (1898-1987). Their modernist framing had a lasting impact on the way Japanese architecture was approached and pictured in decades to come. In the conclusion, the paper will offer some speculation as to whether Feuerstein’s selection followed, or not, the preferences of his Japanese contemporaries.
● MICHÈLE GALDEMAR
The Noblot Collection, French Indochina 1927–1937. A Private Contribution to Colonial Iconography.
Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris, France
The Noblot Collection, French Indochina 1927 – 1937. A private contribution to colonial iconography
Colonial gendarmerie officer in French Indochina between 1904 and 1937, Adrien Noblot built up a collection of photographs between 1927 and 1937. These documents were entrusted to the In Visu laboratory by his grandson. The entire collection will be made available online.
This collection presents a large spectrum of subjects about his life and the country where his used to live. But Adrien Noblot collection brings also an unofficial contribution to French Indochina iconography as well as unpublished or mis-identified events. This collection of photographs consists of 10 boxes of stereoscopic glass plates, three photographic albums and a report on the district of Cochinchine-Cambodia where he spent his entire career. Adrien Noblot has created a documentary work : he shots, got and gathered 400 glass plates and 1200 photographs on paper prints and postcards.
The most important part of Adrien Noblot’s pictures is showing is family life and social status as well as it’s professional career. They comply with colonial expression of social success (holidays, tourism, hunting large game, military reward). Noblot’s professional situation certainly made possible the king Monivong coronation pictures, as well as the Monivong bridge inauguration (Cambodia). The most fascinating is 36 pictures set, showing a colonial repression in Saïgon 1936, today present in the Associated press archives.
17:15–18:45 Panel III
Uniqueness – Visuality – Transformation
Chair: Luke Gartlan
● AYELET ZOHAR
Hazy Moon, Eclipsed Sun: Between Art and Science. The Aesthetics of Astronomical Photography and Celestial painting in Meiji Japan.
Tel Aviv University, Israel
Hazy Moon, Eclipsed Sun: Between Art and Science.
The Aesthetics of Astronomical Photography and Celestial Painting in Meiji Japan
Scientific photographs of celestial objects (mostly the moon and the sun) have been important subjects in the Meiji Japan, as part of the scientific revolution taking place at the time. Yet, the images of the moon and sun were a common theme in Japanese painting of the late 18th and 19th century, notably, descriptions of the hazy moon became ubiquitous and popular through the 18th century. Yet, when photography came to Japan in 1848, several practitioners attempted to make use of the new apparatus to catch the moonbeams on light-sensitive plates, in a manner that echoed the painterly practice of the previous century. Later, this practice had also expanded into the photography of the sun, especially the sun in eclipse, reflecting the high methodical value and importance for the scientific community of Europe and the USA, as special delegations travelled to Japan to be able to catch on films these moments of the solar obscurity.
This paper is set to discuss the exchange between scientific images and artistic expressions of the moon and sun images in Japan during the Meiji era, discussing the negotiations between scientific approaches of documentation and data collection, and artistic expression of high individual interpretation, I argue that photography became the conjunction point between scientific and artistic discourses. I will show how Japanese practitioners perceived and designed the lunar and solar eclipse photographs, not just as documents of scientific proof and astronomical evidence, but also designed the data collected into a cultural framework that positioned these images in reference to the painterly traditions of Japan. Currently, there is only minimal discussion of moon images in painting, and few references to astronomical photography in Japan, none of which is in English. Photographers to be discussed include: Esaki Reiji, Sugiyama Masaji, Kimura Tōta, and Shiina Sukemasa, among others.
● GIULIA PRA FLORIANI
Crafting China through Photographs. Francis E. Stafford’s Vision of the Commercial Press and the 1911 Revolution.
Giulia Pra Floriani
Heidelberg University, Germany
The Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies, Germany
Crafting China through Photographs. Francis E. Stafford’s Vision of the Commercial Press and the 1911 Revolution
Although foreign travellers had first employed photography to create a stereotypical image of China suitable to their imperial perspective, members of the colonised society later used the same technology to further the local political agenda. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, technological advance and intellectual shifts allowed photography to abandon depictions of China as subaltern and frozen in the past, in favour of representations of a modern nation projected in the future.
Francis E. Stafford (1884-1938), who worked at the Shanghai Commercial Press as a photojournalist and print technologies instructor between 1909 and 1915, was one of the knowledge intermediaries who contributed to the process. His work capturing the events of the 1911 Republican Revolution was widely circulated in the local republican and reformist press. By considering the revolutionary images born out of the collaborative work of local and foreign technicians and editors and the technical devices employed in their production, this paper aims to enhance the transcultural dimension of photographic practices. That is to say, I aim to illustrate the instable and variable position of photographs existing in between the categories of “colonial” and “indigenous,” “propagandistic” and “journalistic” in early twentieth century China.
● YUPIN CHUNG
Stillness and Time: “Shanghai of Today”.
Burrell Collection, Glasgow, the United Kingdom
University of Glasgow, the United Kingdom
Stillness and Time: “Shanghai of Today”
Shanghai, as one of China's vital trading ports, has long had contact with a number of countries, especially from the Western world. Travellers from the West headed to the Far East and found their way to Shanghai. Some came to colonise, some to find converts to Christianity, some to make money. Others came to explore, or to study and work. Some photographed what they saw and experienced. Many of these photographs are invaluable images for those who wish to appreciate Shanghai’s moment and its place in the world.
What would photographs be without propaganda? How much does an image reflect its public relations and culture? What is special about photography in Shanghai? This paper will explore the use of photographs from “Shanghai of Today”, published in the 1920s, and will look in some details at what is a rare limited edition souvenir album of fifty van dyke prints of “The Model Settlement”, published by Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh. It is a snapshot of an emerging metropolis, a forerunner of the dynamic Shanghai we see today, a century after the album was published.
14:00–14:45 Keynote Speech IV
● TERRY BENNETT
Photography and the Taiping Rebellion.
Independent scholar, the United Kingdom
Photography and the Taiping Rebellion
In China, the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864) was the bloodiest civil war in world history, claiming some 20 million lives. And yet, outside of the country, the conflict is little known or understood. Although there are a handful of surviving photographs related to these events, they were taken by foreigners fighting alongside the Imperial Qing forces. No photographs taken from a Taiping perspective, or portraits of Taiping military personnel, appeared to have survived. However, the author recently discovered two striking portraits, and their existence raises new questions about the relationships between the Taiping and foreign actors. The fact that they have survived is down to a serendipitous convergence of circumstances which this paper will discuss. The photographs are obviously of considerable historical importance. By 1861, Taiping armies had control of much of southern China. In December of that year, they attacked and occupied Ningbo and were there until Imperial forces ejected them in May 1862. In Ningbo, certain Taiping military officials engaged in social contact with the City's foreign residents. George Hart, one of the leading foreign merchants, invited Taiping representatives to his home, where he photographed them.
15:00–17:30 Panel IV
New Views – Unknown vs. Famous in Asian Photography
Chair: Terry Bennett
● OLIVER MOORE
The Photographic Image in China: More than One Life, More than One History.
University of Groningen, Netherlands
The Photographic image in China: more than one life, more than one history
The richness of photography’s theorization in China contends with a poverty of analytical distinctions. One common Western theorization of the photograph portrait supercharges its status as a biographical fixed point, an unrepeatable performance. Roland Barthes dramatized this obsession with the singular chronotope as the visual subject’s “death” and the image’s fatalité. This paper explores two considerations that divert from these much cited premises of photography’s western discourse. First, the users and distributors of photographs in China often subverted any assumption that the image represented a terminal status, so much so that it is more sensible to recognize photographs in China not as Barthesian foreclosures, but rather as initiations of further optical and graphic procedures, e.g. re-exposure, enlargement, miniaturization, tinting, overpainting, inscription, superscription (among many paratextual additions), and even propitiatory objects of the new sensory enhancements of touch and smell, e.g. luxurious materials and scent.
Second, if these astonishing diagnostics are valid, then they demand also that the photograph’s incremental, diverging and multiple categories of status be recognized as powerful disruptors of what archives both in- and outside China tend to homogenize none too subtly as images’ single lifespans of authenticity, authority and referentiality. Pairing these two considerations can contribute significantly to the larger point of qualifying the history and theorization of photography in China with its particularities.
● FREYA SCHWACHENWALD
Ornamental Streets and Ambivalent Subjects: Historiographical Reflections on Photographs and Artworks between East Asian and European Archives.
Technische Universität Berlin, Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Historische Urbanistik, Berlin, Germany
Ornamental Streets and Ambivalent Subjects: Historiographical Reflections on Photographs and Artworks between East Asian and European Archives
This paper traces the relationship of European practices of travel art and photography with local practices of photography in the Pearl River Delta, Southern China, in the mid-19th century, as well as the historiographical practices related to these images. It takes a critical perspective on the availability of narratives and subjectivities in today’s archives and markets of travel, trade art and early photography. As a case study, it analyses different street views of China (photographs and watercolors) produced by Austrian, German and Chinese artists and photographers around the mid-19th century. It traces the proximity of their visual conventions and processes of (self-)stereotyping across media, the diverging social, commercial, aesthetic and epistemological interests invested into these images, as well as the histories of the images as traveling objects between Western and East Asian institutions and markets. The challenge of such an approach – the often-lamented lack of reliable archival sources, the gaps and silences of archives – is taken as a point of departure to reflect on the conditions of art historical research on early photography in East Asia.
This paper argues that the lack of documentation is connected to specific, racializing concepts of human subjectivity and artistic creativity. It reflects, on the one hand, on the reliance on and dominance of European travel accounts – including their processes of racialization and stereotyping – in historical research on early photography in East Asia. On the other hand, it reflects on the availability of Chinese sources and epistemological differences in the conceptualization of the photographers and artists as subjects.
● CELIO BARRETO
The Syasin Makie of Mizuno Hanbeh: Unique Reproductions or Something Else?
Seneca College of Applied Art and Technology, Toronto, Canada
University of Guelph-Humber, Toronto, Canada
The Syasin Makie of Mizuno Hanbeh: Unique Reproductions or Something Else?
This paper offers a more complete understanding of Meiji-era Yokohama Photographer Mizuno Hanbeh’s gold photographs on lacquer process, through the physical examination of surviving specimens in the public collections of The Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Special Collections Museum in the United Kingdom, the Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum Landesmuseum Zürich and the Museo Delle Cultura Lugano in Swizerland, and in the private collections of John Marriage, Anthony Richards in The United Kingdom and the author in Toronto.
While syasin maki-e are often dismissed as just a dust-on process and a merely decorative object, this study’s detailed observations of the effects of mechanisms of physical, organic and chemical deterioration on these objects reveal new insights on their production, storage, care and display. These syasin maki-e challenge their own classification as either reproduction or original, expressive artistic medium or patented production process, and therefore require a clear understanding of the maki-e process itself. In addition, contemporary and historical documents indicate the Mizuno process’ likely influence on the development of the orotone process across the Pacific Ocean, in the United States. In conclusion, this paper’s findings encourage the reframing of Mizuno’s process as a material manifestation indexical of Japan’s intense process of modernization, international integration, artistic and technological influencer from about 1890 to 1920.
● EKATERINA B. TOLMACHEVA AND POLINA RUD
...Sometimes I get tired, but I think the cause of tiredness is my years — my 55 years are already over – The Far East Through the Eyes of Agnia Diness.
Ekaterina B. Tolmacheva and Polina Rud
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia
"...Sometimes I get tired, but I think the cause of tiredness is my years — my 55 years are already over" – The Far East through the eyes of Agnia Diness
The presentation is dedicated to the collections of photographic documents received by the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in 1905 and 1946. Photographer A. Diness between 1890 and 1905 and represent different regions of the Russian Far East, Korea, and northern China, including the capital city Beijing, produced the photographic documents.
The uniqueness of these materials consists not only of the fact that the collection of original large-format negatives has more than 700 pieces but also of the fact that they were made by one of the first women professional photographers of the Russian Empire. She photographed architectural and historical sights, filming warships, railways and recorded various cultural features of the indigenous peoples of the Far East.
The presentation examines the history and technology of the researcher's work, the author's style, and approach to the choice of objects. Individual technic of photo work allowed to carry out attribution of images and distinguished author's work among controversial photographic documents. The processing of the collections allowed to establish several dates and locations for photographs, which were absent in museum documents.
The result of the study was the analysis and publication of little-known photographic documents of Diness, whose personality has increasingly attracted researchers in recent years.
● XAVIER ORTELLS-NICOLAU
Traveling Photographic Collections: The Case of Juan Mencarini.
Adjunct professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and English Studies at Universitat de Barcelona
Traveling photographic collections: the case of Juan Mencarini
This presentation will comment on the history of a significant collection of photographs of China by a Spanish amateur photographer, Juan Mencarini. The presentation will summarize Mencarini's life and professional career as an employee of the Imperial Customs and contextualize his photographs and the reception of his contemporaries. Particular attention will be paid to the context of the creation of his most comprehensive corpus of images, included in two albums created at the behest of the French consul in Fuzhou in 1895, currently preserved in Paris and Lille. In addition, the presentation will comment on the process to locate Mencarini's images around the world, which suppose an example of collaboration among scholars.
The Mencarini collection is an example of challenges researchers face in early photography in China, particularly the photography by amateurs. Starting from the context of production, distribution, and preservation of Mencarini's photographs, the presentation will underscore the significance of networks of commercial and diplomatic interests and personal affinities in identifying, locating, and contextualizing similar photographic production. In that sense, it might be of interest for anyone working on early photography of China by foreigners.
17:30–18:00 Closing Remarks
● Filip Suchomel
● Olga Lomová
● Eliška Dušková
● Laura Maternová
● Jáchym Suchomel