Symposia, lectures, gallery tours, artist talks et al.

Talk “Decolonization and Transnationalism through Crafts Promoted by Theaster Gates’ Afro-Mingei

Theaster Gates Related Program
Japanese-English simultaneous interpretation available

For this program, we invite Kikuchi Yuko, who has studied crafts and folk art as her life’s work, to critically interpret Theaster Gates’ Afro-Mingei from the perspectives of global art context as well as art and craft history.

We will take a bird’s-eye view of the significance in modern society of Theaster Gates’ concept and practice of “Afro-Mingei” which can give off an abrupt impression; and how the awareness of issues and practice have developed within the critical trend of visual culture history. Skepticism towards the modern field of crafts has been spreading in Japan, while its direct relationship to the global issues of demodernization and decolonization tends not to be recognized. In relation to the recent attention given to “craft” at international festivals such as Venice Biennale and documenta, Kikuchi will discuss strategy of craft Gates advocates for. She will also touch on how Afro-Mingei should be received in Japan. This is not an opportunity to praise the Mingei movement that bore the concept of Mingei, but rather, Kikuchi will talk about the state of transnational Mingei movement research and the significance of its practice from her life’s work as a Mingei researcher, and how we can overlap the issue of decolonization, a matter still moving slowly and being pushed into oblivion in Japan now nearly 80 years since the end of the war, and the issue of Black people.

Kikuchi Yuko

Kikuchi Yuko (Head of Academic Programs, the Victoria and Albert Museum)
Kataoka Mami (Director, Mori Art Museum)
Date & Time
18:30-20:00, Friday, August 2, 2024 (Doors open: 18:15)
* If you would like simultaneous Japanese-English interpretation, please contact   by Friday, July 19, 2024, specifying the name of the event.

Kikuchi Yuko

Kikuchi Yuko (Ph. D) is Head of Academic Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and also teaching the V&A/RCA History of Design MA course. In her positions as Professor of Craft History and Studies at Kanazawa College of Art Japan, and Reader and founding member of TrAIN research centre at the University of the Arts, she has developed an interest in decolonial transnational strategies in relation to ‘crafts’. Her monograph, Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism (2004) has recently been refreshed through a Korean translation (2022). Throughout her academic career she has focused on the postcolonial conditions and sustainability of crafts in East Asia, marked by works such as Refracted Modernity: Visual Culture and Identity in Colonial Taiwan (2007), and “The Craft Debate at the Crossroads of Global Visual Culture: re-centring craft in postmodern and postcolonial histories,” World Art, 5-1 (2015). In Japan, she’s been writing and lecturing about the issues of gender and sustainability in Japanese ‘crafts’, as well as writing about the current British ‘Black art’ (https://www.tokyoartbeat.com/articles/-/black-art-02-202305).

Kikuchi Yuko
Installation view: Theaster Gates: Afro-Mingei, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2024
Photo: Koroda Takeru
Installation view: Theaster Gates: Afro-Mingei, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2024
Photo: Koroda Takeru

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Booking Period
2024.7.5 [Fri] - 7.31 [Wed]
Auditorium, Mori Art Museum
70 (booking required, first-come basis)
Free (exhibition ticket valid for the day of issue required)
Learning, Mori Art Museum
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