Each year, the Sydney Asian Art Series gathers leading international voices on critical issues in early, modern and contemporary Asian art.

In 2022, the Sydney Asian Art Series introduces its audience to a spectrum of innovative new research on the experience of photography in Asian art.
Given the ubiquity of photographic images, the history of photography – from its nineteenth century origins through to its emergence as one of the defining media of the twentieth century – seems familiar and somehow universal. Yet recent scholarship has been rethinking this familiar history, interrogating photography’s central role in shaping the Asian region, and at the same time revealing how Asian photo histories contribute to a richer understanding of photography and the role of ‘mechanical images’ today. (Read more about the series below.)

This series is convened by art historian, curator and editor Dr Olivier Krischer.


Events

ROBERTA WUE
Photographic Chinoiserie: John Thomson and the Chinese Export Image

14 April 2022
11:00am-12:15pm

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ROBERTA WUE
Workshop: China Through Two Photographic Books

20 April 2022
11:00am-12:15pm

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THY PHU
Warring Visions: Vietnam Pictorial and the Colours of Socialist Futurity

12 May 2022
10:00-11:15am

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TRANS ASIA PHOTOGRAPHY
A Roundtable with Editors Thy Phu, Gu Yi and Deepali Dewan

18 May 2022
10:00-11:15am

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CHRISTOPHER PINNEY
Citizens of Photography: Demotic Visual Practices in South Asia

29 September 2022
6:00-7:15pm

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MIRYAM SAS
Realism and Media: Reconsidering Japanese Women Photographers

10 November 2022
11:00am-12:15pm

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SAAS Scholars 2022

Roberta Wue is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine. She has published on painting, photography, print culture, and advertising in modern China. She is author of Art Worlds: Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Shanghai (Hong Kong University Press, 2014) and co-editor with Luke Gartlan of Portraiture and Early Studio Photography in China and Japan (Ashgate/Routledge, 2017). Most recently she is interested in serial images (such as comics), drawing, and the book format in Republican-era China.

Thy Phu is a Distinguished Professor of Race, Diaspora and Visual Justice at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture and Warring Visions: Photography and Vietnam. She has also co-edited Feeling Photography, Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada, and the forthcoming, Cold War Camera. Currently, she serves as co-editor of the open-access peer-reviewed journal, Trans Asia Photography.

Christopher Pinney is Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. Pinney’s research has a strong geographic focus in central India: initial ethnographic research was concerned with village-resident factory workers. Subsequently he researched popular photographic practices and the consumption of Hindu chromolithographs in the same area. His publications combine contemporary ethnography with the historical archaeology of particular media, including his seminal books Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs (1998) and Photos of the Gods: The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India (2004). His publications include Photography’s Other Histories (2003, edited with Nicolas Peterson), The Coming of Photography in India (2008), Photography and Anthropology (2011) and the Camera Artisan: Studio Photography from Central India (2013, with Suresh Punjabi). Most recently, he has been leading a collaborative project funded by the European Research Council, titled “Citizens of the Camera: Photography and the Political Imagination”.

Miryam Sas is Professor of Comparative Literature and Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley (USA). She began as a scholar of the experimental arts of the early twentieth century with a focus on modernist poetics and literary theory in Japan and France, reflected in her first book, Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism (Stanford University Press, released in 2001). She has a strong interest in the cultural wave of the 1960s-1970s which she has explored through studies of theater, film, animation, dance, and intermedia art, for example in Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return  (Harvard University Asia Center Publications, 2010).  Her new book on media theory and intermedia art in Japan, Feeling Media: Potentiality and the Afterlife of Art, for which she was awarded a UC President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities, is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Dr Olivier Krischer (Series Convenor) is an art historian and curator. He is the editor and co-editor of Shades of Green: Notes on China’s Eco-civilisation (Made in China, 2020), Zhang Peili: from Painting to Video (ANU Press, 2019), ‘Asian Art Research in Australia and New Zealand: Past, Present and Future’, a special issue of Australia & New Zealand Journal of Art (Taylor & Francis, 2016), and Asia through Art and Anthropology (Bloomsbury, 2013).

 


About the 2022 Series

In 2022, the Sydney Asian Art Series introduces its audience to a spectrum of innovative new research on the experience of photography in Asian art.
Given the ubiquity of photographic images, the history of photography – from its nineteenth century origins through to its emergence as one of the defining media of the twentieth century – seems familiar and somehow universal. Yet recent scholarship has been rethinking this familiar history, interrogating photography’s central role in shaping the Asian region, and at the same time revealing how Asian photo histories contribute to a richer understanding of photography and the role of ‘mechanical images’ today.

Photography’s nature as both a technology and a medium has made it a tool of domination, on the one hand, yet a fertile site for artistic experimentation and research. As a technology, it is central to extractive colonial practices of ‘taking’ images to ‘collect’ and define other peoples and cultures. Yet, a growing body of work attends to local histories of the medium, recuperating and reevaluating other photographic practices and archives. This innovative new work on war images, vernacular and found photography, family photos, and commercial studio practices, highlights the affective and political agency of such images, their makers and subjects, and the counter narratives of photography that they signal.

The photographic image emerges as a potent site which, across Asia as elsewhere, continues to be the first and last space in which to contend social and political transformations, enacting or bearing witness to a range of agency. In the movement from analogue to digital culture, researchers have also been drawn to the materiality of photographic images, their economies and their related infrastructure. This complexity has attracted researchers coming from visual anthropology, media and cultural studies, in addition to art history, who work with rather than against the plastic, ‘aqueous’, even animistic nature of the technological image as an ‘event’ that continues to unfold, rather than a fixed moment in time. As such, this theme speaks to broader calls for a transdisciplinary, more porous or capacious art history.

Series Sponsors

The series is co-presented by the University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre, The Power Institute, and VisAsia, with support from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

BlackVisAsia


Past Series

Click on the banners below to watch recordings of past lectures in the series.

Patrick Flores (Professor of Art Studies, University of the Philippines

Furuhata Yuriko (Associate Professor, McGill University

Sugata Ray (Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley)

Wu Mali (Artist, writer, curator and Associate Professor, National Kaohsiung Normal University)

Rahaab Allana (Alkazi Foundation of the Arts, New Delhi)

Yung Ma (Artistic Director, Seoul Mediacity Biennale)

Yu-chih Lai (Associate Researcher, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan)

Lisa Claypool (Associate Professor, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Alberta)

Sussan Babaie (Andrew W. Mellon Reader in the Arts of Iran & Islam, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Malini Guha (Associate Professor of Film Studies, Carleton University)

Yasufumi Nakamori (Senior Curator of International Art/Photography, Tate Modern, London)

Cole Roskam (Associate Professor of Architectural History and Theory, University of Hong Kong)

Winnie Wong (Associate Professor, Department of Rhetoric, University of California Berkeley)

Ajay Sinha (Professor of Art History, Mount Holyoke College)

Timon Screech (Professor of Art History, SOAS, University of London)

Nancy Um (Professor of Art History, Binghamton University)

Joan Kee (Associate Professor of Art History, University of Michigan)

Saloni Mathur (Associate Professor, Department of Art History, UCLA)

Julie Nelson Davis (Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania)

David J Roxburgh (Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History, Harvard University)