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Archiving the Spirit: Suda Issei's Fushi Kaden and “Essential” Japan


Tunney, Ross, Archiving the Spirit: Suda Issei's Fushi Kaden and 'Essential' Japan, Trans-Asia Photography Review, 4, (1) pp. 1-15. ISSN 2158-2025 (2013) [Refereed Article]

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This article analyzes images taken from a photo series, entitled Fushi Kaden, produced by the Japanese photographer Suda Issei (b.1940). This series does not necessarily conform to a conventional understanding of the archive in that the images are both contemporary and purposely creative. However, my central interest is not to establish whether archives are in fact curated, but to understand Fushi Kaden in relation to writing on the archive by Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. In Archive Fever, Derrida argues that the archival impulse is inherently driven by a need to affirm identity. As I will argue, Fushi Kaden represents a turn to the past by Suda in order to preserve, or uncover, an "essential" Japanese identity. This impulse reflects Suda’s condition as a modern subject who perpetually seeks self-recognition through turning to a mythical past. In The Archeology of Knowledge, Foucault contends that the archive is "the system of discursivity" in a given society that ultimately determines accepted truth-value. In this sense, I will investigate how Suda’s photographic work functions within discourses about Japanese identity, an important undertaking given that photography retains a strong, although highly contestable, cultural association with absolute "reality."

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Cultural studies
Research Field:Asian cultural studies
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
UTAS Author:Tunney, Ross (Dr Ross Tunney)
ID Code:87950
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:School of Humanities
Deposited On:2013-12-19
Last Modified:2014-07-30
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