I was one of the students and was fortunate to participate in Prof. Kikuchi’s seminar. Even though Prof. Kikuchis stay was relatively short, our group took the great advantage of an additional field trip to Berlin as part of the seminar. This allowed the students to deepen the topic much further. In Berlin we visited the East Asian Art History Museum in Dahlem with Mrs. Kikuchi and visited the storage where we could see and touch rare lacquer pieces and ceramics and enjoy the expertise comments of Mrs. Kikuchi and members of the museums staff on these objects. Afterwards we visited the artist Simon Fujiwara, who we had previously discussed in the course of our seminar, in his studio in Kreuzberg. Mr. Fujiwara was so kind to show us his work and answer questions prepared by the students in great depth. Finishing our field trip we visited the Berlin Biennial contemporary art exhibits.
This field trip, as official part of Prof. Kikuchis seminar, was a thoughtful and beneficial addition to the seminar classes held in Heidelberg. The Ishibashi program has allowed me personally to learn from a great range of different professors and get valuable insight in how different universities, countries and scholarly approaches to various topics of Japanese art. This range of different approaches is one of the most valuable aspects for my education in the field. In general I am very happy to be as fortunate as to partake in Ishibashi sponsored seminars.
The seminar "The Question of Global from East Asian Perspective" of Prof. Kikuchi took place in summersemester 2014 at the University of Heidelberg. It encoureged the discussion concerning the influence of "global" in the field of art and design in Japan. The topic was approached first by a short introduction to the history of design in Japan and the development of arts and crafts of Mingei. Participants of the seminar discussed the development of Mingei design in Japan in a global context going over several examples. In the last two sessions of the seminar the connection of Mingei to contemporary artists was analysed and discussed over an example of the art works of the young contemporary artist Simon Fujiwara.
In connection to the seminar there was a field trip planned to visit the artist Simon Fujiwara in his studio in Berlin. We met the artist and got an insight in his work methods and environment. Also he introduced his art works to us and the participants of the field trip had the unique opportunity to ask questions concerning his artistic production and work environment in connection to the seminar. Also the field trip gave the chance to visit the Berlin Biennale and the Museum of East Asian Art, where the participants got a worthful insight in the collection of the museum and selected objects were presented for the seminar group in the storage rooms.
An unforgettable summer
The question of the terminology “Global” from East Asian Perspectives that was raised in Professor Kikuchi’s seminar during the summer semester 2014 stimulated most interesting discussions whichled tonew questions and issues facing various challenges of art history today.Amongst various discussions on different ideas of “global” in the field of art and design art history we started focusing on its relevance to non-Euro-American cultures from the perspectives of the East Asian visual cultures. This change of view not only challenged the traditional idea of art by means of the critical and theoretical debate on craft but also the validity of art history as a transboundary discipline in different cultural spheres by confronting its Eurocentric ideology.
Our last session took place in Berlin.While the Asian Art Museum of Berlin gave an impressive insight into its collection of beautiful handcrafted ceramics, the day was rounded-off with a delightful meeting with the young artist Simon Fujiwara. Even though it was not easy to find his studio (we walked up on to the top floor to find out that the studio was on the 2nd), I really enjoyed the little adventure in Berlin with the class.It was definitely an unforgettable experience with inspiring thoughts and people.
I want to share my experience about an intensive seminar « The Question of «Global» from East Asian Perspectives» of Ishibashi Guest Professor Yuko Kikuchi. During the summer semester 2014 I had the honor to be a part of this seminar and an excursion in Berlin to visit Simon Fujiwara´s studio, the Berlin Biennial and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Museum of Asian Art).
Prof. Kikuchi gave us a lot of information about modern craft artists, visual culture, history of design and art. There were topics such as «Globalisation in Visual Culture Studies: what is global?», «Postcolonial craft debate in the Crossroads of Global Visual Culture», «Grayson Perry and Simon Fujiwara». We had only four weeks to learn more about these topics from Professor Kikuchi, but her lectures were structured very clearly, so we enjoyed every lecture without feeling rushed. For Prof. Kikuchi it was very important to bring every student to discussion about materials we read or which were presented in class. We discussed a lot about the term «global» and this issue especially from the perspective of East Asia. Prof. Kikuchi also gave us a lot of recommendations for reading, which I am still using for my final papers in other subjects.
During the excursion in Berlin we visited many places in a short time, I found Professor Kikuchi to be a very responsible person who wanted to teach us as much as possible. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to be a student of Prof.Yuko Kikuchi, because I learned a lot about the global culture and art history from her.
The Question of 'Global' from East Asian Perspectives
In the sommer semester 2014, I enrolled the seminar: The Question of 'Global' from East Asian Perspectives, which was taught by Prof. Dr. Yuko Kikuchi.
In the semiar, we discussed many important terms, and the relationship between them, such as “Global”, “Design”, “Handcraft”, and “Art”. We try to analyze them in different language and their meanings in different culture.
Because the excursion is also a part of this seminar, so at the last week of the seminar, we went to Berlin with Prof. Kikuchi together. We visited Simon Fujiwara’s studio, discussed with him about the contemporary art and the East Asia culture in his works. The tip to the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and Ethnologisches Museum of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin was guided by Dr. Alexander Hofmann. I made a presentation in the Museum für Asiatische Kunst about Shoji Hamada. In there, I also saw lots of wonderful objects from the Mingei Movement. Such as the pottery made by Yanagi Sōetsu and Shoji Hamada. At the end of the excursion, we visited the Berlin Biennial.
On 18th July 2014, I have attended the Berlin excursion that organized by Professor Kikuchi. On the first day of the excursion, we visited the museum of east Asian art. The curator made a short introduction on Negoro lacquer. We made an interesting discussion on the motifs, patterns and techniques of the lacquer wares. In the afternoon, we visited Simon Fujiwara’s Studio. On the train to Berlin, I have made a short presentation about Simon Fujiwara’s work ‘Letters from Mexico’. It was a good opportunity to talk to the artist face to face.He spent his childhood between Japan, England, Spain and Africa. His multi-culture background and experience brings his artwork a unique perspective of looking and thinking. The title of this work echoes the Letters from Mexico published by Hernán Cortés who commanding the expedition that overthrew the Atzec empire. Like Cortés, Fujiwara is a European who travelled across Mexico, and he recounts his experiences in a series of eight dispatches. Fujiwara evokes the colonial relationship between Spain and Mexico by addressing most of his messages to ‘Europe’, and alludes to Mexican nationalism. On the second day, we went to Berlin Biennale. I have learned a lot from the excursion.
On the one day trip to Berlin made together with Prof. Yuko Kikuchi we visited the studio of Simon Fujiwara, the Museum for Asian Art (Berlin) and the 8th Berlin Biennial.
At the studio of Simon Fujiwara we asked the artist questions regarding his past work and his future art projects, by looking at material and theoretical aspects of his endorsements and how they interact with the viewer in the context of displaying art and coming across different discourse regarding it. The artist elevated in his answers the materiality of his work but he also placed emphasis on the way one takes in art, criticise it and categorises it in terms of its artistic and ideological approach. One example for such discourses surrounding art was the way in which artists at a distinguished biennial felt uneasy with the artworks of some other artists.
The second visit we payed to the Museum for Asian Art (Berlin) allowed us to look at old and unique pieces of negoro lacquer from Muromachi and Momoyama period, Korean ceramic and ceramic from Okinawa or contemporary pieces which belong to the rhetoric of mingei initiated and developed by Yanagi Soetsu in the 1920s and 1930s. We examined these art objects, discussed around them and raised questions. A student held a presentation about the Japanese folk art movement and she introduced us to the theoretical framework, cultural appropriation and also to the nationalistic tendencies of mingei in Japan.
We went next to one of the four venues of Berlin Biennial curated by Juan A. Gaitán, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, where we explored contemporary artists’ use of materials and the importance and relevance of crafts to contemporary art. One example was the art of Leonor Antunes, who made use of materials such as bamboo, ropes, leather, wood and brass wire for her installation entitled A secluded and pleasant land. in this land I wish to dwell, 2014.
With this last visit we were allowed to have free time, our trip ended here and the majority of us left for Heidelberg the next day.