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Lecture series: Japan now

Inspired by tradition

Join us for a journey as we explore the many and varied aspects that make up Japan now in this exciting three-part lecture series on contemporary Japanese culture.

Drawing on the experience of acclaimed scholars, designers and a curator, we follow the transition from traditional to contemporary.

See also Taiko Life talk and performance. Find out more

Saturdays 2pm
3-17 September 2016

Single session:
$45 non-member
$35 member (Art Gallery Society, Japan Foundation, TAASA, VisAsia)

Full series:
$115 non-member
$90 member (Art Gallery Society, Japan Foundation, TAASA, VisAsia)

Includes coffee and tea in the break and a glass of wine after

Bookings and enquiries: 02 9225 1878


Become a member

Link above is for full series booking

Lectures and lecturers subject to change

Three full working days (Mon–Fri) notice is required to qualify for a refund. All refunds attract an administration charge of 25% of the ticket price(s) with a minimum charge of $5. With subscription tickets there are no refunds for single sessions, unless a session is cancelled. Not negotiable.

Duration 2 hours
Location: Domain Theatre

Related exhibition: Yoshitoshi

Related gallery: Asian galleries

Buildings and bamboo

Still lives in mobile homes: contemporary fluidity of existence in Japan
Dr Julian Worrall, associate professor, architecture and urban design, University of Adelaide

This talk explores the changing spaces and framings through which creative endeavours are being advanced in contemporary Japan. Diverse cultural phenomena such as the proliferation of festivals of contemporary art in declining rural areas; the artistic exploration of themes of publicness, place, craft and labour; and the increasing prevalence of relational strategies among contemporary architects and artists all suggest the elaboration of a ‘post-growth’ sensibility among cultural producers, offering potent insights and visions whose valency extends to the region and beyond.

Bamboo: tradition in contemporary form
Wayne Crothers, curator, Asian art, National Gallery of Victoria

Bamboo groves are synonymous with the Japanese landscape, and crafting items from bamboo is one of the oldest technical skills developed in Japan. Since ancient times, skilfully crafted bamboo baskets have been used in Buddhist ceremonies and the Japanese tea ceremony, with master-apprentice lineages established to pass skills down through the ages. During the 20th century, individual artisans reinterpreted these traditions to create imaginative forms and vessels for flower arrangements. Now, in the 21st century, a new generation of creative innovators from diverse backgrounds are creating an astounding variety of works of art that can be appreciated as contemporary sculptural forms.



Saturday 3 September 2016 2pm – 4pm

Cool Japan

Tea now
Adam Wojcinski (Soumu), tea master and performance artist

The formative years of chanoyu (Japanese tea ritual) were set against a backdrop of intense civil war. Chanoyu emerged as an aesthetic, moral and social revolution that played a central role in bringing the nation to peace. Once peace was established, the revolutionary aspects of chanoyu were suppressed and romanticised. Now chanoyu artists are rekindling the revolutionary flame as chanoyu evolves in a global context.

Mingei Intercultural: the globalisation of the Mingei aesthetic
Dr Chiaki Ajioka, Japanese art consultant

In the 1920s, Japanese religious philosopher Yanagi Muneyoshi (Soetsu 1889-1961) developed his admiration for the beauty of folk crafts into a theory known as ‘Mingei aesthetic’. His theory drew on both Western and Eastern sources including William Blake, William Morris and Buddhist texts, making it intercultural. Crucial to its conception was the emerging modern studio pottery in Japan and Britain, principally Bernard Leach (1887-1979) and Hamada Shoji (1894-1978). Through their travels and network they built across the oceans, the simple unassuming beauty of folk crafts inspired the emerging Western studio craft movements in the decades following the Second World War.

Dr Chiaki Ajioka will be presenting this lecture rather than Byron and Lesley Kehoe, as previously advertised



Saturday 10 September 2016 2pm – 4pm

Media now

Provoke!: Japanese photography 1960s until now
Judy Annear, independent writer and curator, and former senior curator photographs at the Art Gallery of NSW (1995-2016)

By the turn of the 20th century in Japan there were painters, photographers and artists working in all mediums, embracing Western art and photography, adapting them and incorporating local aesthetics and ideas. Post-war reconstruction from the 1950s onward led to new waves of performance, painting, photography, cinema and literature. This lecture looks at post-war photography in Japan in three parts: 1960s/70s – new generation; 1980s – contemporary art explosion; 1990s – rise of the critical woman.

Meta-cinema and Japanese comedy
Philip Brophy, film director and writer

This lecture looks at recent developments in Japanese cinematic comedy as important markers in how Japanese cinema engages in media-intensive self-analysis. Centring on Hitoshi Matsumoto’s R100 (2013) and Sion Sono’s Why don’t you play in hell? (2014), it will consider how these directors’ backgrounds in television skits and performance art respectively ground their meta-cinema.



Saturday 17 September 2016 2pm – 4pm