Ignacio Alberto Adriasola Munoz

Assistant Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2021)
Recontextualizing the "silence" of Japanese Canadians: artistic approaches by Cindy Mochizuki and Emma Nishimura (2021)

In the context of Japanese Canadian and Japanese American studies, the silence of the Second World War internment survivors is one of the most frequently discussed topics. This thesis explores the significant use of silence by two Japanese Canadian artists, Cindy Mochizuki and Emma Nishimura. With the impactful use of silence, Mochizuki’s Sue Sada Was Here and Nishimura’s An Archive of Rememory successfully interrupt the official narrative told in museums, which often silences the histories of ethnocultural minority groups in Canada. The Japanese Canadian community is not solely responsible for their collective silence. Rather, as Mona Oikawa suggests, social amnesia is actively produced by the nation state and bystanders. Both artists’ works successfully resist social amnesia and the erasure of memory enacted through the official discourse on reparation through their effective use of silence in their works. In Mochizuki’s site-specific single-channeled video installation Sue Sada Was Here, performers’ verbal silence strengthens their power of haunting, backed by the heavily layered sound and speeches of a writer Muriel Kitagawa. Building on Avery F. Gordon’s discussion on ghosts’ haunting, I argue this work successfully haunted the exhibition visitors, who might have felt being questioned their silence as bystanders. Nishimura heeds the silent memories through re-enacting her grandmother’s wartime experience in making An Archive of Rememory. By folding photo-intaglio prints of family photographs into bundle-shaped sculptures, Nishimura rejects the homogenization of Japanese Canadian history and the reasons for their silence. This representation of silent memories achieves what Janet Wolff and Luc Boltanski’s discussed as an adequate emotional proximity, which is required for the represented memory of pain to create a politically productive relationship with its witness.Although scholars often prioritize speech over silence, silence is also an impactful communication tool. Both artists’ own listening to their grandparents’ silence, as well as the silence embodied in their works, demonstrates how the withholding of speech can mobilize the observers. It is more the task of observers to practice their listening and determine how they can ethically react to the silence of others.

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Specters of the vessel: SMdeisha, Isamu Noguchi, and nonfunctional ceramic art in postwar Japan (2021)

Created in 1954 by potter Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979), The Walk of Mr. Samsa is known as the quintessential obuje-yaki, or ‘kiln-fired object.’ Used by proponents of Japan’s ceramic avant-garde, and particularly associated with Sōdeisha—a collective of ceramicists co-founded by Yagi in 1948—the neologism introduced a renewed questioning of functionality into the language of ceramics by referencing objets trouvés, ‘found objects’ appropriated by proponents of Dada and Surrealism. However, in the context of postwar Japan, the term obuje-yaki did not denote found objects but works of nonfunctional, abstract, ceramic sculpture. Yagi’s Mr. Samsa is considered to be a chief example of the genre because it clearly departs from the ceramic convention of functionality. The members of Sōdeisha often declared their work as fine art, but by working with the medium of clay they applied this declaration to a medium more often associated with the creation of practical objects. Frustrating scholarly attempts at defining Sōdeisha is this assumed conflict between traditionalism and modernism. Some see the group’s references to foreign culture or their lack of functionality as attempts to escape the dogma of Japanese ceramic tradition.In response to the pursuits of the folk-craft movement (mingei undō) and Japanese traditionalists, Sōdeisha argued for an alternative conceptualization of the medium that might incorporate both functional and nonfunctional objects. I argue that Sōdeisha’s allusions to ‘foreign’ cultural forms and terminology did not merely serve to escape tradition, but to make an argument within the debate on tradition (dentō ronsō). This was also the case for their allusions to ‘Japanese’ cultural forms: they engaged with nonfunctional, prehistoric and historic ceramics of the Japanese archipelago. Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), through exhibitions of his own quasi obuje-yaki in the early postwar period, can be credited with encouraging Sōdeisha to adopt forms reminiscent of dogū, clay figures from the Jōmon period, and haniwa, the funerary ceramics of the Kofun period. These ritual items of Japan’s distant past embodied the spiritual potentialities of the ceramic medium and allowed Sōdeisha to complicate the binaries of ‘fine’ and ‘folk,’ ‘foreign’ and ‘Japanese,’ that underpinned the theories promulgated by mainstream traditionalists.

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Splitting space: destabilizing the suburban souse in postwar art and contemporary horror film (2020)

This thesis explores the representation of the suburban house and the concept of suburbia as an extension of social normativity in America following World War II and into the contemporary period. I pursue this line of investigation by analyzing three works that question and disrupt this distinct space – Dan Graham’s Homes for America (1966-67), Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting (1974), and James Wan’s Insidious (2010). While seemingly disparate in terms of media and chronology, the following reveals the unique means through which each work exposes a shared disdain toward suburban development and its deep ties to normativity. By closely examining how each artist represents the space of the home and its subsequent undoing, a network of cultural production that seeks to destabilize the fraught idealism that has long been attributed to the suburbs is formed. Drawing from spatial and temporal theory, I articulate how normativity is formed in the space of the suburbs through structured rhythms, movements, and gestures that become attributed to the heterosexual, white, middle- to upper-class family. My investigations of postwar art then create a methodology used in my following analysis of contemporary horror film. This methodology adopts from queer theory a process of estrangement, a deviation from the normative space of the suburbs that seeks to disrupt and challenge existing scripts within dominant social frameworks. As such, this thesis provides a new method through which postwar art and contemporary film may be analyzed, away from canonical or genre prescriptions, in addition to a justification for continued representational engagements with the suburban house in the contemporary period.

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Between individual expression and collectivism: Onchi KMshirM's wartime prints (2019)

Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955) was one of the key figures associated with the creative print movement, sōsaku hanga. The movement developed in Japan in the early 20th century, one of many practices in the visual arts that heralded the rise of modernism in Japan. Creative prints differed both visually, and in their means of production, from the traditional ukiyo-e woodblock prints that had been so popular during the Edo period (1603-1868). Rather than being created on commission by a team of people, as ukiyo-e had been, sōsaku hanga artists took as their motto “self-drawn, self-carved, self-printed.” This change reflected their embrace of expressionist ideals, as they strove to dissolve the boundaries between art and life and sought to depict the everyday, including their own thoughts and feelings. Most scholars break Onchi’s work into pre and post-World War II periods, paying little attention to his wartime activities. However, the war years represent an important time in his career, during which he was forced to negotiate his own artistic subjectivity within a nationalistic frame. In many ways, wartime nationalism helped woodblock print artists to justify their place within society, as the medium came to be seen as uniquely, divinely Japanese. Though it may seem at odds with the movement’s ideals, Onchi was very active during the war, traveling to Manchuria to document activities there, and selling works to help fund the war effort. Through a study of Onchi and other artists’ activities during the war, I explore this period of his life, so as to more critically consider the implications that it had on his existence as a modern Japanese artist, and leader of the sōsaku hanga movement.

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Dressing difference: gender, ethnicity, and subjectivity in representations of chima chogori in Japan (2019)

This thesis investigates the works of contemporary artists from Japan, Shimada Yoshiko and Oh Haji, who have incorporated into their practice chima chogori, or Korean ethnic dress for women. Highlighting the continued presence and significance of chima chogori within Japanese art and visual culture from the early twentieth century, this thesis examines how their works address and respond to a long history of representations of women in ethnic dress in Japan. During Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula (1910-1945), representations of Korean women in chima chogori were actively produced and circulated in the metropole, where such images played a crucial role in demarcating the boundaries between Japan and Korea. Inseparable from Japan’s ongoing imperial aggressions, they further manifest the changing role of colonial Korea within the empire. In postwar Japan, chima chogori reemerged, most notably in the form of school uniforms at Korean schools: taking up chima chogori, a sign of ethnic difference, was a strategic stance taken by Zainichi Koreans in their response to and resistance against the legacies of imperialism that continued to exclude them from the borders of the nation. While drawing attention to the issues of women’s subjectivity and gender difference in the practice and representation of chima chogori uniforms, I also point out how women’s negotiations of their identities through the practice of chima chogori are often obscured in media representations. Intervening in this history of representations of chima chogori in Japanese visual culture, Shimada and Oh reveal a shared concern for the encounter with the other in their approach to chima chogori. Their works, I argue, speak to and open up an ethics of alterity and, in doing so, critique the imperialist systems that constructed difference for the domination of the other and continue to condition the lives of Koreans in Japan. At the same time, their works challenge the representational and discursive practices of chima chogori that have been largely dominated by men.

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Do You Think It's Over?: Performance and the "Third Place" of Greenland's Art History (2016)

During a performance piece in August 2015, Greenlandic performance artist Jessie Kleemann carried out an homage to a past artwork by Greenlandic-Danish artist Pia Arke: an ephemeral installation composed of used coffee grounds that Arke herself destroyed upon conclusion of the exhibition that had included it. In order to elucidate the relationship established in Kleemann’s work, this thesis will undertake a close analysis of individual artworks by the two artists. The existing literature has portrayed these artists as lone figures, divorced from the mainstream of Greenlandic art, and they have rarely been compared to other Greenlandic artists, yet I argue they share a common method: a performance of history. This thesis will examine the durational and resonant aspects of both works, and through them argue that performance stages a responsive encounter between subject and object, and between historical references and the present. This thesis will highlight how performance has played a much larger role in reevaluating cultural discourses in Greenland than the existing literature suggests. Kleemann and Arke approach history through the durational aspect of temporality. I argue that in their oeuvres, the work of history occurs as a durational process of both presentation and re-presentation, where both the past and the present play active roles in forming historical knowledge.

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