Regardless of how globalized our world might seem, languages and written words continue to refer to particular cultural locations. If we are unable to read them, however, written words and scripts present a purely visual encounter. Traces of Words explores the cultural significance and artistic representations of Asian words and writing by focusing on its visual and material presence.
Writing, especially calligraphy, has been referred to as an aesthetic form, and has played an important social and political role in diverse Asian traditions ranging from Buddhist text in Pali to Islamic and Chinese calligraphy. This tradition of scripting continues to have an impact on contemporary artist as well. Words, whether spoken, written, imagined or visualized leave traces unique to human life. Essays from five experts and illustrations of ancient and contemporary works invite us to explore this theme in Traces of Words.
Fuyubi Nakamura is a sociocultural anthropologist. She joined the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as its curator for Asia in 2014. Her investigation into the production and consumption of Japanese calligraphy has developed over multiple global locations. She has curated exhibitions, including (In)visible: The Spiritual World of Taiwan through Contemporary Art (Vancouver, 2015–16). She has taught at the Australian National University, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Oxford (where she obtained her doctorate in 2006). She is an associate member of the Departments of Anthropology and Asian Studies and Centre for Japanese Research at UBC. Her publications include Asia through Art and Anthropology: Cultural Translation Across Borders (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013).