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Asian Art Workshop: The Measure of the World: Kang Se-hwang’s Journey to Kaesŏng

Date: 18 October 2013 (Friday)
Time: 12:00-1:00pm
Venue: Room 10.28, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus

In 1757, the scholar Kang Se-hwang (1713-1791) travelled to Kaesŏng (formerly known as Songdo) located about seventy kilometers north of Hansŏng, or Seoul. He documented his trip in Journey to Kaesŏng, an album which has since become one of the most celebrated group of painting in the history of late Chosŏn painting in the 17th and 18th centuries. Of special interest are the questions Kang raises about scale, or the deliberate calibration of objects according to size. Throughout the history of painting in Korea, artists have used scale primarily as a means to make visible abstract ideas like infinity and vastness, often using as a standard the kinds of relational frameworks used in Chinese painting since the early Song Dynasty. Yet in Journey to Kaesŏng, scale operates as an agent which opens up spaces and viewing experience that collectively produce a consciousness best described as the real. Theis sense of the real was not an exclusively aesthetic question, but was fabricated in questions of identifications and associations on which one might recognize the parameters of a “world”

Speaker: Joan Kee

Joan Kee is an Assistant Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan. She is a specialist in modern and contemporary Asian art, teaching and researching on artworks from the mid-18th century to the present. She received her PhD from the IFA at NYU under the advisement of Jonathan Hay and recently organized with Emanuele Lugli (York) “Size Matters: Questions of Scale in Art History” at the Kunsthistoriches Institut.