Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan's Great Earthquake of 1923
Fri, February 3, 2012 • 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM • Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118
The Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Sichuan and Haiti earthquakes—the experience of disaster is both universal and particular. Most of us understand these horrific events through a complex matrix of media, most of them visual, that attempt to record and assign meaning to destruction, chaos, and tragedy. Images mediate our experiences. How the visual functions in relation to disaster, however, requires close critical examination. Focusing on one landmark catastrophic event in the history of an emerging modern nation—the Great Kant? Earthquake that devastated Japan’s imperial capital and its surrounding areas in 1923—this talk explores how different media produce modes of seeing, understanding, and, eventually, remembering.
Gennifer Weisenfeld’s work on early-20th-century avant-garde and commercial art includes her book Mavo: Japanese Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1905-1931. She is working with the extensive archives of the Shiseido cosmetics firm to examine the emergence of consumer culture, commercial advertising, and a feminine ideal in early-20th-century Japan. She is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies (Art, Art History & Visual Studies) at Duke University.