August 28, 2007

Scroll story clouds history at SF's Asian Art Museum

"Telling Tales: Illustrated Storytelling Scrolls," organized by Forrest McGill. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA. Through Oct. 21.

Peter Schurmann writes on the New America Media website: "The Korean king kneels, hands clasped in a gesture of submission. Above him looms the Japanese empress, at the head of an armada and clad in full samurai armor with sword outstretched. His armies defeated and his lands occupied, the king swears his country’s eternal loyalty to the Japanese throne. No, this is not a screenplay for some epic Korean drama, though it has all the elements. The scene comes from a fourteenth century scroll depicting Japan’s legendary sixth century conquest of Korea's Silla Dynasty. Part of the exhibit Telling Tales at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, the scroll has stirred controversy within the Korean community. It has also highlighted challenges the museum faces in drawing the line between art and history....Young Kee Ju, editor of the Korea Daily, says that the exhibit is 'problematic' because it 'distorts the history of Korea’s relationship with Japan.' Although the painting is a piece of art, he says its antiquity lends its contents historical weight, particularly for viewers unaware of Korea’s past." Read more.