'Utsuwa Utsushi' symposium

Hiroshi Onishi, Machiya of Image, 2012

04 May 2018

9am to 7pm



Welcome and Introduction by Yuko Kikuchi (Reader, TrAIN, CCW-UAL)
Keynote 1: Shigemi Inaga (Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
‘The Pirates’ view of the world as an alternative to the current knowledge production and system’
10:20-10:30 break
Session 1: The Question of ‘authenticity’ and border-crossing approach
10:30-10:35 Introduction by Chair: Hammad Nasar (Independent curator and Senior Research Fellow at Paul Mellon Centre and UAL; Former Head of Research & Programmes, Asia Art Archive, HK)
Toshio Watanabe (Professor, UAL and SISJAC, University of East Anglia) 
‘The Authenticity of Transnational Japanese Gardens’
Alfred Haft (Curator, British Museum)
‘The Self-activating Echo:  Mitate vs. Yatsushi in Ukiyo-e’
Hiroshi Onishi (Professor, Kyoto University of Art and Design)
‘Digital Art and Question of Copies in Japanese Culture’
Katie Hill (Programme Director, MA Modern and Contemporary Asian Art,
Sotheby's Institute of Art)
‘‘Van Gogh was here’ (梵高在此). Translating the madness of modernity through Cai Yuan’s enactment of an outsider in London in 1873’ 
12:35-13:05 Q&A
13:05-14:00 Lunch
Session 2: The Question of ‘Craft’ in the Spectrum of ‘Design’ and ‘Art’
14:00-14:05  Introduction by Yuko Kikuchi
Keynote 2: Julian Stair (Potter)
‘Embodying Narratives: Pottery in the 21stcentury’
15:15-15:20  Introduction by Chair: Dr Imogen Racz (Senior Lecturer in History of Art, Coventry University)
Maiko Tsutsumi (Course Leader, MA Designer Maker, CCW-UAL) 
‘Thoughts and Utterances in Material Practice: Objects and Words / Thoughts and Actions’
Marta Ajmar (Deputy Director, V&A Research Institute VARI)
‘Mimetic Earthenware: How Italian Renaissance ceramics complicate Eurocentric hierarchies of the arts’
Yuko Kikuchi
‘The logic of Kazuya Ishida’s Material Centred Approach within Bizen Tradition’
Demonstration by Kazuya Ishida (Potter, Bizen and Oxford Anagama)
16:55-17:20 Q&A
17:20-17:30 break
Giorgio Salani (Maker, PhD candidate, Central Saint Martins, UAL)
Making for Others: qualities and narratives in contemporary British tableware pottery
Chih-I Lai (Curator, National Palace Museum in Taiwan)
‘Borrowing or Stealing: the Dialectical Aesthetic Discoursebetween Designers and Craft Makers in the Yii Project’
18:30-18:50 Q&A
19:00 End

Exhibition of works by Takahiro Kondō (ceramic artist) and the video of his work shown at the Red room.

Drawing from the wordplay of two etymologically associated Japanese terminologies: ‘Utsuwa’ (vessel, container, receptacle, vacuum, reality) and ‘Utsushi’ (copy, transfer, possessed), this symposium raises philosophical and visual cultural questions on the conventional idea of dichotomy ‘original’ vs ‘copy’, ‘fine art’ vs ‘applied art’/’craft’, ‘seen’ vs ‘unseen’ and ‘material’ vs ‘immaterial’. 
According to Inaga Shigemi who inspired this symposium with his idea of ‘“Pirates' View” of world history’, the current rigid legal regulations and knowledge production system set by Euroamerica have been challenged by the pirate’s trade their products and access to information.  However, the negativity attached to the idea of ‘copy’ also enables us to realise the positive values that can be found in the Japanese/East Asian ideas. 
It was Okakura Kakuzō in his Book of Tea who pointed to the positive value of the negatively perceived vacuum by saying ‘The usefulness of the water pitcher dwells in the emptiness where water might be put, not in the form of the pitcher of the material of which it was made.  Vacuum is all potent because it is also all containing.  In the vacuum alone motion becomes possible.  The person who could make of himself a vacuum into which others might freely enter, would become master of all situations.  The whole can always dominate the part’.  Unlike the Euroamerican idea, Utsuwa (vessel) is not merely functional tableware.  Utsuwa can be a teabowl that contains tea, but can also contain aesthetic spirituality and potent space for containing.  Utsuwa can be the human body which contains the mind, or Utsuwa can be a haniwa figurine that may contain the spirit of the dead.  Also, Utsuwa is not just applied art/craft, because it is made of ceramic.  Material combined with skills produce material-centred logic that results in a particular form and aesthetic value that is not confined to the narrow definition of ‘applied art/craft’ as opposed to ‘fine art’.  Utsuwa has been copied many times and material knowledge as well as the skills involved in making were passed on to many generations through the process of copying. 

Photo: Hiroshi Onishi, Machiya of Image, 2012