More voices from the inside

29 09 2009

A volunteer of the Asian Art Museum notes on her blog Artemisia Speaks the pride that museum staff take in the fact that “Lords of the Samurai” is their second most successful show of all time.

What was the first, and what does it tell us about “what we love,” as she puts it?  Click here to find out.

Volunteer Artemisia makes the point that as far as box office success at the Asian Art Museum goes:  “Orientalism lives!”

Meanwhile, Anne, an educator at another Asian art museum, speaks to her own education staff’s efforts to bring informed, alternative perspectives and counter the stereotypes promoted by Orientalist museum exhibitions.  At this other museum, educators work — unsupported by curatorial staff or leadership — to “counter the institutional voice that assumes that exoticizing the topic is ‘what the people want,'” making the point that “it’s a myth that wrestling with important issues and having a sense of humor and play are mutually exclusive.Read the rest of this entry »


Art Critic Kenneth Baker’s review

22 09 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

“A new genre in contemporary art, usually called ‘institutional critique,’ got started in the 1960s. It often takes dry, strident forms, as the term may suggest. But not in the case of ‘Lord It’s the Samurai,’ an unusually inventive online critical parody of the Asian Art Museum’s “Lords of the Samurai” exhibition, which closed over the weekend.”  Read more.

Respecting Culture vs. “Having Fun”

18 09 2009

Believe it or not, the following are actual photos from the Asian Art Museum’s own Spot the Samurai promotional campaign.

And then there are the video spots:

This is the kind of promotion that has been described by a major museum’s distinguished curator as “fairly insulting to the whole idea of the samurai.”

Apparently the Hosokawa family, owner of the art objects on display, has gone along with it, but we can’t imagine they’re too proud or thrilled to have their exquisite collection associated with such a cheapening of culture. (In fact, we were told by one museum official that they have no intention of the Hosokawas finding out about this protest).

Some of our own principal staff are documented descendants of samurai ourselves, and we have to say we find this gross mishandling of our ancestral culture horribly offensive.

Museum staff have told us they’re just “having fun.”


Now, lest you believe that this is solely the work of the museum’s PR/Marketing department, think again.

Here are photos of the museum’s director donning the costume: Read the rest of this entry »

ON THE AIR: KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio!

16 09 2009

On Monday afternoon (9/14/09) we took our message to the airwaves.

Our communications director was interviewed along with artist/educator/culture blogger Valerie Soe by the inimitable Weyland Southon on KPFA‘s one and only Hard Knock Radio.


Here’s what one listener on the East Coast had to say: Read the rest of this entry »

Art Action: Early birds get the educators

8 09 2009

Providing educators with the historical context omitted from the show.

Our elegant and congenial outreach staff rose bright and early over the long weekend to make sure each and every attendee of the museum’s educators workshop received the historical context that was omitted from the samurai exhibition. Read the rest of this entry »

A museum curator’s response

3 09 2009

Asian Studies scholar Morgan Pitelka‘s “Samurai Exhibit Pwned,” which we blogged previously, was also posted to the Japan Art History Forum.  The following is a response by Hollis Goodall, Curator of Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), reproduced here in its entirety with permission.  We have added emphasis to the parts we found particularly relevant to our concerns, but for those interested in museum practices, the post as a whole gives insight into criticisms and questions raised from a museum curator’s perspective.  Our response on this site follows Goodall’s below.

“I appreciate so much the information about the parody site and the Asian Art Museum’s blog discussion, both of which were provocative. Morgan’s writing was so thoughtful, and Deb’s was non-defensive, and accepting of criticism, difficult I’m sure considering the level of vitriol expressed in the parody. I think the points raised in the blog, in particular, are worth discussing at the (Smithsonian Institution’s) Freer/Sackler’s proposed meeting of Asian Art curators next spring. There are a couple of aspects of Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: