The Tale of Genji

Péter Peti, Boglárka Cziglényi
Phase One IQ280

We digitized 64 items in cooperation with the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asian Art in 2015.  We used Phase One’s IQ280 with Profoto and Lupo lighting. Review by Boglarka Cziglenyi.

Ultra high resoltion images:

Genji is the prince, who is in love with the world,

and the world loves him back because of his extraordinary beauty and intellect. Genji, the ideal of the perfect man is part of Japanese culture since the 11th century. One can find him on paintings, drawings, sculptures even card games. The Hopp collection’s items are artifacts from all over these centuries.

Genji is usually not known in Europe. His story is long and rich in interesting characters and lovers referred as the “lady of the damp moon” or “Crocus”. (The latter is a discreet hint for the lady’s reddish nose.) The exhibition is based on this story, but the museum does not wish to present the whole Tale of Genji (Genji monogatarit) wich was written by a noblewoman named Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century. The goal is rather to show a point of view, that was unique to the long gone people who cherished these works of art when they were created.

The script and the paintings – depicting some events in the story – coexisted from the beginning. There is even a theory that assumes that the story itself was created as a guide to the images to help people contemplate the artworks deeper meaning. Ferenc Hopp Museum’s exhibition itself is centered around the idea to experience the harmonious modalities of these sensations: images, symbols, texts, stories, even smells are presented to us as a unique and unified experience.

In one of the original stories of the novel, lady-in-waiting Murasaki is dying. A ritual is arranged in a garden to help her get ready for the journey ahead of her. The attendants start to play music, and due to this and the beauty of the garden in the spring, a young and handsome general starts to dance. The others throw colorful cloaks and capes on him. “I see a mayfly, I try hold it in my hand. Oh, I have it at last – it is no more.” The Tale of Genji and thus the exhibition also tries to hold this mayfly: they catch a glimpse of transience, a moment of equilibrium between existence and quietus, between nothing and everything.


The Tale of Genji

Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asian Art


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