VMPEA: Stephanie Lee
"The Social Lives of Picture Postcards"
Speaker: Stephanie Lee (Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University)
Discussant: Kaeun Park (Ph.D. Student, University of Michigan)
This paper examines colonial Korean picture postcards in three digitized collections: the East Asia Image Collection at Lafayette College; Postcard Collection of Colonial Korea at the University of Chicago; and the Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. These postcards, or e-hagaki 絵葉書 flourished from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. With the standardization of domestic and international postal services and reprographic technologies, ehagaki and its artists illuminated curated snapshots of culture, craft, colonial women, and landscapes for ravenous collectors and tourists. Commissioned by both public bodies like the Government General of Chosŏn and Japanese Government Railways, as well as private entities, like artist-owned sōsaku hanga 創作版画 publishers, postcards allowed Japanese modernist aesthetics, local color, and intimate configurations of labor to be shared with a wide circle of international consumers. This presentation considers how materiality and printing techniques figured into the lived realities of gendered labor; intimacy; and archival practices at the turn of the century. Specifically, the presentation suggests how analyzing picture postcards allow access to microhistories across colonial space and time, recuperating the lives of these objects and images from back-to-front; paper to cardstock; and from the post office to the archive box.
Stephanie Lee studies early modern and modern printmaking, specializing in Dutch and Japanese works-on-paper. Her work is particularly concerned with the role of prints and printmaking in the processes of transcultural mediation within the Japanese Empire. She is currently a Legal Fellow at the Center for Legal Studies and a doctoral student in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University.
Kaeun Park studies histories of modern and contemporary art and visual culture, with a focus on photography. Her dissertation project examines documentary photographic practices in 1970s and 1980s South Korea. Besides working on photography, she has written on a wide range of topics related to Korean art such as architecture and commercial design during the colonial period, 1970s performance art, and ecological art practices in the late 1980s.
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