[Talk] Victory Pictures in a Time of Defeat: Art, War and Media in 19th century China

Victory Pictures in a Time of Defeat: Art, War and Media in 19th century China

with Dr Hwang Yin
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Department of Chinese Studies,
National University Singapore

Dr Hwang Yin will share her study of Chinese sheet prints depicting wars in the late Qing period. The survival of such works has been rare, as they were considered ephemera not worthy of preservation. Although largely unknown in contemporary China, unstudied and forgotten examples in various museum and library collections around the world, mostly gathered by curious outsiders, offer opportunities for substantive research.

The talk focuses on depictions of the Sino-French War (1884-85), the Sino-Japanese War (1895) and the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), locates the sheet print at a critical time that saw technological changes in the conduct of war and the emergence of the modern mass media in China. These print materials have been considered incorrect in the face of news reportage or official histories. However, an interpretation based on pictorial analysis and an understanding of the print as a commodity presents a complex web of relationships among visual, print and popular culture within a society polarised by regionalism, rapid modernisation and urbanisation. Dr Hwang argues that these renditions belong to the genre of ‘victory pictures’ (desheng tu 得胜图 and zhangong tu 战功图) and explores how a genre, usually associated with court production, was disseminated, and its responses to modernity, differing audiences and print technologies.

This talk is organised in conjunction with the exhibitions “Who wants to remember a war?” and LINES: War Drawings and Posters from the Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran Collection, which features posters, woodcuts and drawings from the French phase of the Indochina war of resistance against the Americans, and drawings and sketches of life and people at the frontlines.
For more information on these exhibitions, please click here.

About the speaker
Dr Hwang Yin is an art historian, writer and editor, currently based in the Chinese Studies Department, National University of Singapore as adjunct Senior Lecturer. She is also Director of the consultancy Kasuri Asian Art Research. She received her PhD from SOAS, University of London. She previously taught at SOAS and the University of Hong Kong, and was managing editor for Orientations, the Asian art magazine. Areas of research interest include Chinese painting; Chinese printmaking; visual, print and popular culture, especially of the late imperial and Republican period; collecting and connoisseurship; historiography of Chinese art history; art theory; comparative modernities in Asia; contemporary Asian art, and Asian art in emerging markets.

[Image credit: Chinese woodblock print depicting Commander Liu Yongfu leading Chinese soldiers in repelling French forces during the Bắc Ninh Campaign (1884) in North Tonkin, c. late 19th Century, Collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France]

Thu Oct 6, 2016
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM SGT
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Victory Pictures (Thurs, 6 Oct, 7pm) FULL
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