Gunhild Borggreen, Copenhagen:

University Copenhagen, The Department of Art and Cultural Studies 
 / HUM Campus, Copenhagen
10. September 2014, Wednesday, 13.15-14.15, ROOM 27.0.09 

Within the last decade, the development of Visual Culture in general has lead to an increasing interest within Western academia for contemporary Japan. The key elements in Visual Culture seem to fit the trademarks of Japanese culture: it is contemporary; it applies multimedia, and appears to be highly visual. 
The current global boom of Japanese manga, anime, electronic games, and other visual products has prompted Western scholars and critics to try to explain these visual phenomena and the popularity they uphold within a specific national framework. Such attempts often identify various visual phenomena as not only emerging from Japan, but also embodying some specific elements of ‘Japaneseness’, and hereby create a direct linkage between pop culture imagery and characteristics of a nation based on arguments related to the idea of a homogeneous and unique culture of Japan.
This talk will provide a critical outline of such essentialist tendencies and discuss examples from the contemporary Japanese art scene that challenge the notion of a nationalist or culturalist understanding of ‘Japan’. The examples I provide will point out the importance of specific cultural context, rather than attempting a generalist or universal perspective.

Gunhild Borggreen is Associate Professor in Visual Culture at Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen. With a background in Japan studies, Gunhild’s research focuses on nation, gender and performance Japanese contemporary art and visual culture. Gunhild has published in journals such as Performance Research and Copenhagen Journal for Asian Studies, and she is an editor and contributor to the anthology Performing Archives / Archives of Performance (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2013). Her book Disrupted Images. Nation in Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture, is forthcoming.