International Symposium: Reconsidering Mingei (25-26 October 2019)

General information

The symposium will take place at the Museo Vincenzo Vela on

Friday, 25th and Saturday, 26th October 2019

Additional events accompanying the main symposium programme will be held on Sunday, 27th October 2019.

The symposium is open to the public and subject to a fee. Those wishing to attend are requested to register by filling in the form (attached in the symposium programme) or per e-mail to:

The official languages of the symposium are English and Italian, with speeches in Japanese (translations available).

For questions, please contact the Museo Vincenzo Vela.

Symposium program, Friday 25th October

13:00 – 13:30    Arrival and Registration

13:30 – 14:00    Welcome
Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen (University of Zurich)
                          Dr. Gianna A. Mina (Director, Museo Vincenzo Vela)

14:00 – 15:30    Panel 1: Beginnings of Mingei
                          Moderation: Sabine Bradel (PhD Candidate, University of Zurich)

                          Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen
                          The Origin of Mingei Movement in its Historical Context and
                          Yanagi Sōetsu

                          Ms Tamae Sagi, Director (Kawai Kanjiro Museum, Kyoto)
                          Kawai Kanjirō: Life Is Work, Work Is Life
                          (Japanese and English)

                          Prof. Dr. Em. Yoshikuni Yanagi
                          (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
                          The Okinawa Textile Collection at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum
                          in Tokyo
                          (Japanese and English)

15:30 – 16:00    Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:00    Panel 2: Mingei and Modernity
                          Moderation: Prof. Hans Bjarne Thomsen (University of Zurich)

                          Prof. Dr. Kim Brandt (Columbia University, New York)
                          Mingei and Folk-Modernism in the 1950s 

                          Prof. Dr. Rossella Menegazzo (Università degli Studi di Milano)
                          From Mingei to Contemporary Everyday Design
                          (Italian and English)                        

17:00 – 17:30    Keynote: Collecting Mingei

                          Interview with Jeffrey Montgomery
                          (The Montgomery Jeffrey Collection)
                          Conducted by Gianna A. Mina (Museo Vincenzo Vela)
                          (Italian and English)

17:30 – 17:45    Greeting

                          From a Representative of the Embassy of Japan

17:45 – 19:00    Japanese reception                          

Symposium program, Saturday 26th October

9:00 – 9:30       Welcome

9:30 – 11:00     Panel 3: Round table. Mingei as a Study Topic.
                         Inputs by Students (BA, MA)
                         Moderation: Eleonora Lanza, Luigi P. Zeni (Italian and English)

                         Giulia Cappello, Eleonora Lanza, Cristina Panzeri (Università degli    
                         Studi di Milano)
                         Marina Van Spyk, Ke-Ren Wang, Luigi P. Zeni (Universität Zürich)

11:00 – 13:00   Panel 4: Mingei Case Studies and Local Crafts
                         Moderation: Prof. Dr. Rossella Menegazzo

                         Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen
                         The Six Ancient Kilns of Japan and Mingei (English)

                         Mr Takayuki Yagi (Ceramist, Issei Toen workshop, Tokoname)
                         「民芸と工芸、 バーナードリーチが見た時代の常滑と現在」
                         Mingei and Kōgei in Tokoname: from Bernard Leach to the Present
                         (Japanese and English)

                         Prof. Dr. Setsuko Nitta (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
                         Looking at Okinawa Textiles and Mingei
                         (English and Italian)

                         Ms Maria Will (Art Critic)
                         Specific Aspects of Ceramics and Creativity: Looking at the Art
                         produced in Ticino from the Second Half of the 20th Century to the
                         New Millenium

                         (Italian and English)

13:00 – 14:30   Lunch
                         (For the lunch, registration is requested. Cost CHF 15.00) 

14:30 – 16:00   Panel 5: Mingei in Practice
                         Moderation: Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen

                         Mr. Takayuki Yagi (Ceramist)
                         Demonstration: Creating Tokoname Ceramics

                         Prof. Dr. Setsuko Nitta (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
                         Demonstration: Weaving the Back Strap Loom of Okinawa

16:00 – 16:30   Coffee break

16:30 – 17:30   Panel 6: Final Discussion
                         The Past, Present and Future of Mingei
                         Moderation: Dr. Gianna A. Mina (English and Italian)


                         Dr. Kim Brandt (Columbia University, New York)
                         Prof. Dr. Rossella Menegazzo (Università degli Studi di Milano)
                         Prof. Dr. Setsuko Nitta (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
                         Ms. Tamae Sagi (Kawai Kanjiro Museum, Kyoto)
                         Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen (Universität Zürich)
                         Ms. Maria Will (Art critic)
                         Mr. Takayuki Yagi (Ceramist, Tokoname)
                         Prof. Dr. Em. Yoshikuni Yanagi
                         (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)

Additional Events: Sunday, 27th October

09:30 – 10:30   Tour of the Exhibition
                         (Italian and English)

18:45 – 19:45   Screening of the Documentary
                       「島の色 静かな声」
                         Silent color. Silent Voice on Okinawa and its textile tradition
                         dir. by Ayako Mogi (Japanese and English)
                         G/J/F, 2008, ’75

12:00 – 13:00   Reception

13:00                End of the Symposium

This symposium is organized by the Section for East Asian Art at the University of Zurich and by the Museo Vincenzo Vela, Federal Office of Culture, with the collaboration of the Università degli Studi di Milano.


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