“Critiquing “Orientalia” – A philosophical and aesthetic analysis of the concepts of spirituality and diversity manifested in ceramic objects”
This paper examines the concept of New Orientalia through an analysis of contemporary expression, cast in the shadow of the ideas framed by the cultural critic Edward Said and the potter Bernard Leach. It evaluates new perspectives on Asian and Western ceramic cultures, through a critical discussion of the concepts of ‘East’ and ‘West.’ It is framed by a phenomenological perspective, that in its rejection of a dualistic philosophy, of a separation of mind and body, allows new modes of East-West reciprocity.
Leach and his friend, the Japanese aesthete, Soetsu Yanagi, evoked an idealization of “the East” as a site of “innocence”: writing at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, they considered that China, Korea and Japan were “uncontaminated” by the decadence of Western Modernism, which was epitomized by the rapid rise of Industrialization and the superseding of craft skills. Leach viewed the Orient uncritically and identified an iconic Korean rice-bowl as emblematic of ‘the East’; Edward Said maintained that the concept of Orientalism was in fact a difference established by Western critics as a means of domination over “The Other” – that is non-Western persons, who through (mis)representation of their being can be repressed by ascribed authority.
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