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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Event Series
June 29, 2023

DIJ Study Group session on ‘The Sublime and Wabi-Sabi’

© Philippe Bürgin

One of the most noteworthy examples of the Japanese art form known as karesansui (枯山水), i. e. dry landscape garden, can be found at the Ryōan-ji in Kyoto. Philippe Bürgin proposes that the aesthetic appeal of this garden’s composition can be fruitfully recontextualized in accordance with the aesthetic category of the Kantian sublime, in the sense that its abstract moments point towards a void, an idea, something that goes beyond our perception – but still within our perception. The aesthetic moments of the sublime coincide with Japanese aesthetic categories such as wabi-sabi by marking the spatial and temporal thresholds of what is representable. The presentation argues that there is a latent sublimity to Japanese art works in which even modern forms of artistic expression might have been anticipated. Details and registration here

Philippe Bürgin, State University of Fine Arts Stuttgart/DIJ Tokyo