Southern Barbarian Screens

Single Channel

The National Museum of Art in Osaka’s Nakanoshima, Kita Ward originally served as the Expo Museum of Fine Arts, a pavilion at the 1970 Japan World Exposition held in Osaka’s Senri Hills; it opened in 1977 and was relocated to its current site in 2004. This work depicts a African American man carrying out from storage photographic replicas and partial enlargements of the South Barbarian Screens (Nanban byōbu) in the collection of Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art, taken by photographer Narahara Ikkō in 1982 based on his survey of the museum’s collection. Within the screens, the viewers’ gaze is drawn not only to the Japanese and Portuguese people depicted as symbols of the cultural exchange between East and West, but also to the figures depicted as their servants or slaves. The work also makes evident the changes in documentary media – painting, photography and video over the ages..