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Mechademia 7Lines of Sight$
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Frenchy Lunning

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816680498

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680498.001.0001

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Dying in Two Dimensions: Genji emaki and the Wages of Depth Perception

Dying in Two Dimensions: Genji emaki and the Wages of Depth Perception

Chapter:
(p.150) Dying in Two Dimensions: Genji emaki and the Wages of Depth Perception
Source:
Mechademia 7
Author(s):

Reginald Jackson

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816680498.003.0008

The Gotō Museum’s “Yomigaeru Genji monogatari emaki” exhibit of 2005–2006 was an ambitious attempt to “resurrect” the museum’s legendary illustrated handscrolls of The Tale of Genji (the Genji monogatari emaki) by having artists paint a series of new, more polished and more vibrant but ostensibly “faithful” copies to be exhibited alongside the originals. However, the refabrication of the scrolls strategically excludes the narrative calligraphic kotobagaki sections that compose the lion’s share of the extant Genji scrolls, effectively severing an intimate bond between narrative text and narrative image. The redacted reproduction also fails to account for the calligraphic performance of dying that figures so prominently in the climatic deathbed scenes of the Tale of Genji protagonists Kashiwagi and Murasaki no Ue. This chapter considers some of the potential implications of this omission. It aims to think through the spatial and temporal dimensions of artistic representations of death in relation to the composition—and decomposition—of the Genji emaki. Specifically, it examines some of the consequences involved in “resurrecting” the twelfth-century scrolls within the context of the twenty-first-century gallery in order to critique a contemporary insistence on the flatness of images and the displacement of text that results.

Keywords:   Gotō Museum, Yomigaeru Genji monogatari emaki, handscrolls, The Tale of Genji

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