Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Chinese Art History, University of Chicago

Wu Hung's talk explores the methodological potential of “reading absence.”  Here, “absence,” is understood in a dialectical relationship between depicting and de-picting. The general idea is that instead of providing visual information about the subjects represented, certain images, installations, and performances deliberately erase or withhold such information. Since such phenomena are seen throughout the history of world art, we need to explore the reason for creating such works as “empty signs” and their expected reception. This lecture examines three types of paintings created after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644.  These include a commemorative portrait of a courtesan, pictures of the mausoleum of the founder of the Ming, and images of wordless steles.  It demonstrates how these images, though deliberately “empty” in physical and historical specificity, conveyed complex political and psychological meanings at the time of Ming-Qing transition.

Thursday, November 14, 2013 | 5:30 pm — 7:30 pm
Annenberg Auditorium, Cummings Art Building

Department of Art and Art History