Monthly Archives: November 2015

12 November presentation by Jan Stuart: Art on View: Planning a new display of Chinese art at the Freer Gallery of Art

12 November: Art on View: Planning a new display of Chinese art at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

A short presentation, followed by a round-table discussion by Jan Stuart, Hulsewe-Wazniewski Visiting Professor, Leiden University, and Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Oliver Moore, Curator of Chinese Art, Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, and Leiden University. Discussants: Professor Kitty Zijlmans (Leiden) and Dr Anna Grasskamp (Heidelberg).


The Pavilion of the
National Museum of Ethnology
Steenstraat 1

If you would like to participate, please register with Ms Heleen van de Minne at:

All welcome!


The Freer Gallery of Art  and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, two jointly administered museums, are the national museums of Asian art in the United States and form part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Freer opened in 1923 and the Sackler in 1987. Temporarily closing until 2017, the Freer is undergoing renovation. This talk presents the early planning stage for a new display of Ming and Qing dynasty Chinese art drawn entirely from the permanent collection that will focus on the power of the imperial court, especially in the 15th and 18th centuries. The gallery will include many types of art, especially ceramics and paintings, and some of the challenges of interpretation being considered are the degree to which the gallery should tightly focus on specific ideas or people—such as the technology of making porcelain, or the personal vision of Qianlong emperor—or try to present a more encyclopedic introduction to the art on view.  The talk looks at specific collection objects, philosophies of display/interpretation, and the practical constraints behind all gallery projects.


The event is generously supported by the Hulsewé-Wazniewski Foundation for the Advancement of the Study of Chinese Archeology, Art and Material Culture at Leiden University (HWS), the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), and the Leiden research cluster Asian Modernities and Traditions (AMT).


13 November: Teri Silvio on “The Ang-a Mode of Animation”

13 November: The Ang-a Mode of Animation: The Granting of Agency in Chinese/Taiwanese Religious, Artistic, and Economic Practice

Lecture by Teri Silvio, Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

Time: 15.15-17.00 p.m.

Venue: Arsenaalstraat 1, room 001, Leiden.


This paper is part of a book I am writing which attempts to outline an anthropological theory of animation, which I define as the process of projecting qualities perceived as human outside of the self and into the environment.  My hope is that animation might serve as a complement to “performance,” a conceptual platform which allows us to compare practices across different social fields, different cultures, and different historical eras – to allow us, for instance, to look for cultural logics connecting such diverse phenomena as Hello Kitty, the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, zombie movies, emoticons, and drone warfare.

In this paper, I outline a particular mode of animation which runs through Taiwanese religious, artistic, and economic practices.  I define a “mode” of animation as an assemblage of genres and practices held together by which qualities of human existence they treat as projectable, by how projection is accomplished, by what kinds of non-human objects are taken to be animatable, and by specific structures of feeling they evoke.  I posit a Taiwanese/Chinese mode of animation which centers on a specific type of object, called ang-a in Holo or ou in Mandarin — a small, three-dimensional, human-form (or anthropomorphized animal or object-form) figure.  The ang-a is invested with  specific human qualities – personality, affect, and charisma —  through specific types of actions – ritual, iconographic, and communicational practices.

Since most theorizing of animation has been done in the United States and Japan, I want to highlight the differences between the ang-a mode of animation and concepts of animation grounded in monotheistic or animist cosmologies — that is, the idea that animation is “playing God” on the one hand, and the idea that all things in the world already have souls on the other.