Current Institutional Affiliation
Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia

Award Information

Blowout: Japanese Art and the Crisis of the Spoken Word, 1959-72

The 1960s and early 70s were marked by a crisis of the spoken word. In various national contexts, the realities of force and violence within the public sphere led to a widespread disillusionment with liberal ideals of rational and open discussion. In Japan, this crisis came to the fore first around Anpo 60 and then again during the student struggles of 1968 to 1970. Against this backdrop, artists working in various media figured speech and its positive social and political capacities as compromised if not wholly withdrawn. At the same time, various aesthetic and philosophical currents pushed the material and phenomenological bases of speech to the fore, emphasizing the opacity of the oral verbal sign against notions of communicative transparency. “Blowout” aims to trace this wide-ranging breakdown and reconstitution of the spoken word within the visual and verbal arts of Japan during the 60s and early 70s. The focus is on manga, a visual medium in which the representation of speech is central. Cinema, performance, and architectural experiments will also be deployed in this study of the spoken word.