Exhibition

A Painting for the Emperor

Japanese Labourers on Sugar Plantations in Hawai’i
8 Feb 2018 - 31 May 2018 | Johann Jacobs Museum

In 1885, the King of Hawai‘i commissioned a large oil painting as a gift for the Emperor of Japan–but the painting never reached the Imperial Household. This exhibition displays the painting for the first time outside of Japan, reconstructing its historical context and the lives of its protagonists. The painting serves as a window onto the late-nineteenth century world of the Asia-Pacific region, a world that was transformed by the emergence of Meiji Japan as an international power.

In 2018, the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, we look back on Japan’s entanglement with the Pacific through its labourers, its commodities and the image it wanted to project overseas. A Painting for the Emperor invites you to cross oceans and genres of art, and to consider more generally practices of framing and unframing in the narration of history.

To link the historical material and the present-day, we have asked three contemporary artists to interpret this material using the means at their disposal.Japanese artist Aiko Tezuka isolates touching details from historical photographs by Eduard Arning; Tiffany Chung (Vietnam/USA) uses a montage process to combine old maps of Hawai’i; finally, Jürgen Stollhans (Germany) draws the bridge that Japanese new arrivals in Hawai’i had to cross after disembarking the ship.

In cooperation with the Chair for Global History, University of Zurich and the Chair for East Asian Art History, University of Zurich.

 

Title image: Joseph Dwight Strong, Japanese Laborers on the Sugar Plantation, Spreckelsville/Maui, 1885, Oil on Canvas, Collection of Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd. in Japan

 

Events

  • 8 Feb 2018
    7:00 pm

    Opening

  • 20 Feb 2018
    7:00 pm
    Conversation

    The charm and misery in doing an exhibition across disciplines

    With Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich, Chair for East Asian Art History / Prof. Dr. Martin Dusinberre, University of Zurich, Chair for Global History / Roger M. Buergel, Johann Jacobs Museum, Director / moderated by Dr. Sophia Prinz, Johann Jacobs Museum, Researcher
    (GE/EN)

  • 6 Mar 2018
    7:00 pm
    Thematic Tour

    The Photographs of Eduard Arning

    With Christina Wild and Prof. Dr. Martin Dusinberre, University of Zurich, Chair for Global History
    (EN)

  • 24 Mar 2018
    3:00 pm
    Workshop

    Wagashi Candy

    Traditional Japanese confections made from sugar.
    With Tomoyo Jäger (for young people between 11 and 15 years)
    (GE/EN, free of charge)

  • 3 Apr 2018
    7:00 pm
    Thematic Tour

    Global Music – Japanese Plantation and Coalminer Songs

    With Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich, Chair for East Asian Art History / Prof. Dr. Martin Dusinberre, University of Zurich, Chair for Global History
    (EN)

  • 17 Apr 2018
    7:00 pm
    Movie Night

    Picture Bride

    A Japanese-American film drama from 1994.
    The film depicts in a realistic manner the situation of Japanese labourers on sugar plantations in Hawai’i at the beginning of the 20th century.
    Introduction by Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich, Chair for East Asian Art History
    (EN/JP)

  • 29.04.2018
    15:00
    Artist Talk

    Aiko Tezuka

    With Roger M. Buergel
    (EN)

  • 8 May 2018
    7:00 pm
    Thematic Tour

    Where is the art?

    With Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich, Chair for East Asian Art History and Roger M. Buergel, Johann Jacobs Museum, Director
    (EN/GE)

  • Events are included in the general museum admission ticket if not otherwise stated.