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My apologies for the inconvenience,
Jos de Mul (web editor)
From the President
Springtime in Beijing was, this year, too short. Short and very busy. Some of our good friends visited here, including Ken-ichi Sasaki, Curtis, Carter and Ales Erjavec, and I was very happy to meet them. I will enjoy seeing all of you in between the regular meetings of our Congresses.
Recently, I have attended several conferences in China and elsewhere. In early April, I went to Hangzhou for a symposium on the theoretic significance of Chinese ink-wash painting hosted by Pan Gongkai. We had a very good discussion there on the famous West Lake garden, a place traditionally called "Paradise on Earth" in China. Our friends, Curtis Carter, Richard Shusterman and Peng Feng, gave excellent presentations there. We also met other scholars including François Jullien and Cheng Chung-ying. Two topics discussed were especially interesting and deserve mention here: first, the physical brushwork as the traces of human action to signify the feeling and emotion, or states of mind of the painters, and second, the brushwork as the evidence of the painter's character as a morally exemplary human being. These two concepts represent two interrelated ways of thinking about and interpreting Chinese ink-wash painting.
A little later in April, I went to Chengdu (The city where many of us met in 2006. I hope you still remember this city where the Executive Committee meeting of IAA voted to approve Beijing as the venue for the 2010 IAA Congress). At this 2014 Chengdu conference, two key concepts attracted the attention of the participants. First, contemporary literary theory and secondly, its trans-cultural travel. "Contemporary" and "contemporarity" are important concepts because people are considering the possibilities to go beyond the post-modern and post-modernism. The introduction of so many different theories into China has contributed to confusion among Chinese scholars. They now wish to return to their own ways of living and artistic practices. Their aim is to find possibilities for focusing on their own practices while continuing to introduce the theories from abroad. Secondly, the matter of the trans-cultural travel of theories is important. During the 20th century, many theories have become influential internationally. Most of them originated from Europe and became internationally influential by way of their reception and development in the USA. Now, as theories travel to China, it is hoped that their reception and development here can become theoretically significant and fruitful in the future as well.
Later, I traveled great Britain to take part a conference entitled, "The Fourth UK-China Marxist Aesthetics Forum". Some fifty participants (half from China and half from Europe) gathered in the charming city of Chester to discuss some major topics of mutual interest. The topics included "post-capitalist futures," "utopia," "the Chinese dream," "multi-culturalism," and "cultural identity." I argued for the necessity to maintain an aesthetic dimension in a market-oriented society and in a world that is driven by power struggles. Despite conversations about the so called "end of art" in aesthetics, the consensus was that art and aesthetics continue to have important roles in today's societies and in the world as a whole.
In May, I hosted a small workshop with some friends at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), where I am working. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the work of missionaries and their roles in the modern transformation of China. While not my field, I learned much as the participants recounted many historical details, which space prevents me from detailing here. We enjoyed an excursion to visit several churches in different parts of Beijing, each with its own distinctive architecture and hearing its interesting history was especially impressive. We went also to the tombs of three famous missionaries Matteo Ricci, Ferdinand Verbiest, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, respectively from Italy, Belgium, and Germany, together with more than sixty other tombs. This area of Beijing is a place I strongly suggest you visit when next you are in Beijing.
In each of these conferences, while participants address many different issue, questions and themes, all are important. However, it seems to me that three of them especially deserve our attention today:
· At a time when many scholars speak of an age after post-modern, it is time to revisit the question of the relationship between aesthetic qualities and art. In particular, how shall we understand the relationship of aesthetic qualities to art? If a work of art has nothing to do with aesthetic qualities at all, then how it is possible for it to be work of art?
· At a time that the borders between art and non-art are continuously broken or become vague, are there still borders of art? Or must these borders remain unsettled, changing, or ceasing to exist?
· At a time when many speak about the salvation of society, what is the function of art? Is it a means of salvation or redemption? If the purpose of art is salvation or redemption, the success of art may depend on the needs of a society for salvation or redemption.
· The Chinese scholars are also discussing many similar issues from their own perspectives and based on their own experiences and in August, we will have a conference in Kaifeng, Henan Province.
In closing, I look forward to our interim conference in Belgrade next June 26-28, 2015.
Detailed information on this meeting will be provided soon.
Gao Jianping, President
By Parul Dave Mukherji, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Interest in Indian aesthetics has revived in recent times since its resurgence in the middle of 20th century. During mid 1950s, a space for dialogue between Indian and western aesthetics had opened at a time when the newly independent nations like India were expected to turn to their past to reinterpret it from an unshackled standpoint. It is to be noted that in 1965, a special issue of the Journal of Art and Art Criticism was devoted to Oriental aesthetics with contributions from leading Indian thinkers and scholars of the time ranging from K C Pandey, P J Chowdhury and Ramendra Kumar. Participating in this debate were Archie Bahm, Eliot Deutsche and Thomas Munro whose investment in this cross cultural study of aesthetics was remarkable. The euphoria for exploring new avenues and alternative models to Eurocentric understanding of aesthetics was short-lived and in more than a decade and a half, it was displaced by scholarly indifference.
Most of the papers published in this special number on everyday aesthetics
were presented at the VIII International Summer School of Applied Aesthetics in
June 2008 in Finland. This series of summer schools and summer conferences is
organized by the International Institute of Applied Aesthetics (IIAA), based in
Lahti, Finland. We as the editors of this number are grateful to the IIAA for
giving us the opportunity to put this issue together. We thank all those who
contributed in their many different ways to making the summer school a
Published by Airiti Press.