Manga - Book
Noda Satoru, Golden Kamuy, 2014 onwards
© Satoru Noda/SHUEISHA
From the 23rd of May to the 26th of August, 2019, the Citi Exhibition Manga マンガ will be held at the British Museum in order to showcase this elegant style of Japanese art. Now if you want to know more, please feel free to check out the following interview I did with one of the curators, or alternatively, check out the accompanying book published by Thames and Hudson in collaboration with the British Museum. Please enjoy.

Manga at the British Museum (Hardcover)

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself, Doctor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere?   I'm currently the IFAC Handa Curator of Japanese Art at the Department of Asia (British Museum), as well as a research director, professor, and a founder of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures at UEA, (Norwich, UK). My specialty is Japanese historic archaeology, East Asian ceramics, and contemporary craft expression, yet my passion is manga. I see resonances between the Japanese ceramic and manga industries, both in production structures but also in content.

Manga - MagMany years ago at Harvard, when I proposed to focus my PhD on ceramic production (which I was eventually allowed to do), I was warned that ceramics belong in the kitchen or underneath the bed. Bringing the process of production into the light and shifting underlying prejudices about the mediums, both ceramics and manga have since become a driving force for me.

2) What inspired the formation of this Manga exhibit and the creation of its complementary book?   The British Museum's engagement with manga began in 2008 when the former director, Neil McGregor, asked to have a manga exhibit created (perhaps responding to a similar process initiated at that time by the Louvre Museum). So I was tasked with sourcing the artist and seeing the project through to completion, which eventually led me to work with Hoshino Yukinobu on his co-developed book, 'Professor Munkata’s British Museum Adventure' (BM Press, 2011). After that, we then created several small exhibitions on manga, with the latest in 2015 called ‘Manga Now’ in the Asahi Shimbun display in Room 3, which drew almost 100,000 people. The BM has been strategically acquiring manga and it is always displayed in the Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries in Room 95

This recent exhibit came about when I proposed something on a larger scale, which was then market tested and proved to be very popular. We had also planned to create an accompanying book, but instead of a traditional catalog, we attempted something a bit different to better reflect the subject matter (with Thames and Hudson’s support). 

Manga - Cat
3) After writing this book, what do you find is the most surprising fact featured in it?   Interviews play an important part in this book, and one quote that particularly stood out to me was by Akatsuka Rieko (b. 1965), who's the artist daughter of the famous gag manga master, Akatsuka Fujio (1935-2008). She said, ‘My father told us that the fundamental, defining moment of his childhood was the feeling he got seeing a mass of crows flying in a red sky in Manchuria during the Second World War. As a result, he was able to perceive everything in perspective, always looking at the bigger picture'. Personally, I think that's because he understood sorrow, and he also knew the importance of laughter. 

4) What song would you say best represents this piece and why?   Perhaps alt-J and their song, 'Nara', from their 2014 album, 'This is All Yours'. It's a beautiful song about following and celebrating your passion despite what others may think or believe.

Manga - British Museum5) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your wares, who would you choose, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   Without a shadow of a doubt, I would have to choose Will.i.am, because he's great at promoting what he likes or feels is relevant at the moment. He also crosses cultural boundaries and his message reaches a cross-generational audience, which can be seen in his recent collaboration with Marvel, 'Black Eyed Peas present Masters of the Sun: The Zombie Chronicles'.

Manga is fundamentally about breaking down boundaries, it's about inclusion and engagement, and it's a visually immersive form of storytelling for people who feel they're not included in official histories. Will.i.am appears to understand this and I think could make a brilliant advocate if he engaged with the material.

6) During your time in this field, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   Reading manga has been my lifeline. So when I get tired or discouraged I turn to manga and all is OK.

7) If you had a personal motto, what would it be?   I learned this from my grandfather (who lived to be 107) and it has become my motto, ‘keep moving!’.

Now for any more information, please feel free to check out the official British Museum or Thames and Hudson website. Otherwise, pick up a copy of the book on Amazon

MANGA AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM MANGA AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM Reviewed by David Andrews on May 30, 2019 Rating: 5

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