In 2008-9, five Japanese venues hosted a touring exhibition, Self & Other: portraits from Asia and Europe, which traced a history of intra- and intercontinental influence on the human image in paintings, sculptures and installations. Breaking visitor records, it was curated by cultural and art historians and initiated a lively interdisciplinary dialogue.
Posing Questions, at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS
in London (21 January 27 March 2010), is the first and only U.K. exhibition of four independent exhibitions designed to compliment the Japanese show. Each will offer a further distinctive take on portraiture to appeal to local audiences and prompt debate.
Using an interdisciplinary approach like the Japanese exhibition, and thought-provoking images from several time periods, Posing Questions highlights key issues in the social significance of portraiture itself.
This exhibition is organised through ASEMUS, the Asia-Europe Museums Network, and generously supported by ASEF, the Asia-Europe Foundation.
Themes covered include: attributions of animation and agency; role, character and personhood; options and interplay between graphic, sculptural and verbal/textual expression; subject, artist and audience in creative process; ground, group and figure; head, face and eyes; perspective, gaze, glance, peripheral vision and the moving image; renown and anonymity; resemblance and fictions of the pose; and art discourse as a status-marker.
The survey draws on the rich traditions of two continents as an antidote to ethnocentrism.