Image of Norwich Cathedral and Hostry
The “Third Thursday Lectures” are public lectures hosted by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in Norwich. Usually held in the Hostry of Norwich Cathedral, the lectures have now moved online and have become available to a global audience. A wide range of topics are presented by the lectures which provide the public with an extraordinary opportunity to engage with academic expertise and gain interesting insights into aspects of Japanese culture. SISJAC’s lecture on Thursday 15th October, given by Professor Ming Tiampo of Carlton University, was was no exception.
Professor Tiampo has a captivating and enthusiastic style of public speaking which makes it easy for those in her audience to engage with her topic. Her lecture titled Please Draw Freely: Gutai Individualism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism provided a fascinating introduction to the Gutai group, who pushed the boundaries of what can be considered art with their novel ideas and multi-faceted, often performance-based artworks.
An especially interesting part of the lecture was Professor Tiampo’s explanation about the use of language in art history to define movements. She explained how in 2013 when she co-curated the Gutai: Splendid Playground exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, they decided to frame it from the Gutai Perspective – centring around the establishment of the Gutai Pinacotheca rather than their “discovery” by French critic Michel Tapié. They used new vocabulary to discuss Gutai, for example “Play” rather than “Relational Aesthetics” and “Concept” rather than “Conceptual Art”, to avoid connotations rooted in Western Art History. This allowed Gutai to be viewed as its own entity, rather than a version of other movements. Professor Tiampo’s lecture provided not only a great overview for the newcomer to Gutai, but it also argued that the importance of Gutai to modernism is greatly underestimated.
Link to SISJAC event: