Organized Panel Session
This panel examines wartime iconography in East Asia during the expansion efforts of the Japanese Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Instead of studying images directly depicting the brutality of war or apparent military propaganda, we highlight “bloodless iconography,” referring to motifs and themes that might appear to have little direct bearing on the war (e.g., beautiful women, nudes). We are interested in how the context of war shaped the production and reception of such “familiar” and sometimes even “beautiful” images. Do they invite alternative readings of complicity or resistance? In what ways did the radical framework of war void, mediate, or transform iconographic conventions? These four papers highlight challenges in the iconographic approach to the study of wartime art in Japan, China, Taiwan and Manchuria. Rosina Buckland explores the complex situation for Japanese painters steeped in Chinese culture producing traditional Chinese literati art during wartime. Mia Liu revisits the nudes in Chinese cinema in the 1930s and ’40s and explore how the war provided dramatic shifts of ground in the evolving discourses of the “nude”, especially with the participation of popular mediums such as cinema. Gina Kim explores female icons of Manchukuo in commercial and propagandistic media and how this gendered imaginary of “New China” was discursively constructed in the context of Japan’s new pan-Asiatic imperialism. Chia-Ling Yang examines the adaptations of van Gogh’s portraits and how such bloodless interpretations triggered the censorship in art through the case study of Tan Ting-pho in Japanese-occupied Taiwan.