Euro-Japanese interactions and mutual appropriations in museum architecture and exhibitions of art and artefacts

Abstract

This project investigates recent developments in the idea and construction of Europe in Japanese museum practices, interactions, and appropriations. Doing so, the project analyzes crucial thematic processes and public reactions to the staging, dramatization, and contextualization of European and Japanese art and artefacts in both material and mediated forms.

Outline

This project investigates recent developments in the social imaginary of Europe in Japanese museums, as well as public controversies and responses to high-profile Japanese museum designs and architecture in Europe. My concern is with the role of Western ideals, standards, and notions for present-day Japanese museum architecture and exhibition practices, and the ways in which Japanese museum designs in Japan or Europe engage in a complex dialogue with European models, reflecting a certain historical reversal of creative initiative and force of expression from European to Japanese formal and spatial configurations. I aim to describe and problematize the spatial and classificatory matrices and logic underlying “spectacles of knowledge and beauty” with regard to the social imaginary of Europe and its “exhibitionary complex” (Bennett) with the West “as the universal unmarked” (Trouillot). Principal analytical foci will be issues of appropriation, exhibition, and classification, and my concern will be with the way Japanese museum practice, especially in recent decades, confronts, challenges and/or reinterprets the fundamental notions of modernity, representation, depth, roots, and authenticity so central to the European exhibition tradition and its universalist pretensions.