Gunhild Ravn Borggreen

Gunhild Ravn Borggreen

Associate Professor

I teach and conduct research in Japanese visual culture and art history. I teach methodologies for visual analyses and other aspects of visual culture. In my research I am focused on transcultural exchange between Denmark and Japan. Jeg do research on socially engaged art and art festivals in contemporary Japan. Other themes include the relationship between art and technology, robot culture, as well as performance, nationality, and gender in Japanese contemporary art and visual culture. I give plublic lectures on Japanese art and have worked as a consultant for a number of exhibitions on Japanese art in Denmark.

Primary fields of research

I am the Principal Investogator for the research projekt  Transcultural Modernism: Artistic Interchange between Denmark and Japan, 1945-1970 (TRAM), which runs from 2022 to 2026 and is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation Investigator Grant. In the project we look at archival materiale in order to map the complex flows of artefacts, ideas, and personal relations between artists in Denmark and Japan. We apply a transcultural approach to this artistic interaction and have focus on the reciprocity and symmetry in order to challenge the conventional prejudice of non-Western art as "copy" or "derivation" of Western modernism. By this approach, we hope to contribute to an epistemological shift from a Eurocentric to a global perspective.

I am leading the international research network Collaboration and Community Building in Contemporary Art in Japan and Denmark, (CCCA) supported by the International Network Programme at the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education. The purpose of the network is to expand a collaboration with Japanese research and art institutions as part of an investigation of socially engaged art in a globalized world. My own focus is on how art can provide new forms of communities in rural areas, as well as a critical approach to evaluating the effect of socially engaged art. The network will furthermore develop new methodological approaches in an interdisciplinary field of art, aesthetics, and anthropology.

In connection to the CCCA activities, I am involved in organising an international symposium on 12th-14th August 2022. With the title Art in the Countryside: Symposium on Art and Regional Revitalization through Case Studies from Japan, I have collaborated with my colleague Barbara Geilhorn to put together a program and invited a number of experts in order til explore local, national and global flows of artistic exchange at art- and theatre festivals in rural Japan. 

In 2013-2918 I was co-founder and project manager of ROCA (Robot Culture and Aesthetics), a research network focusing on practice-based research into the intersection of art, technology, and society. I am especially interested in artistic interpretations of the social function of robts, as well as the imaginaries about robots created through film, literature, comics, and other cultural products. I also investigate imaginations about other cultures that are connected to technology, such as techno-orientalism or techno-nationalism in the relationship between Japan and the West.


I contribute to the period courses in aart history, in which my examples from Japanese art history adds a perspective to Western art history. I contextualize with a focus on transcultural and global art and art history research.

I teach in methodologies related to visual analyses, and I focus on how to give students tools and skills in analysing visual material, both for their further studies and for their future jobs. Class room teachin includes concrete practice in close collaboration with students, who contribute by collecting and analysing examples from visual art and everday visual culture.

I supervise wihtin the field of Visual Culture and Art History, including BA projects and MA theses about photography, contemporary art, performance studies, gender, Japanese art and visual culture, transculturation, postorientalism, anthropology, and many other areas. 


Fields of interest

In 2023-2024 I have been involved in curating the exhibition In Love and War: Japanese Woodblock Prints at the Designmuseum Danmark's collection, which takes place betwen April 26, 2024, and January 5, 2025. I have collaborated with Associate Professor Asato Ikeda, Fordham University, and Kirsten Toftegaard and Pernille Juul Schmidt, Designmuseum Denmark. My focus has been on the part of the exhibition that shows prints from the Meiji period (1868-1912), which is an often neglected period of the history of Japanese woodblock prints. Here we see a shift from the Edo period's (1603-1868) more subdued colours and smaller format to larger prints with bright colour and dramatic compositions. I have had a special attention to the many prints in the collection, that depict the first Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese war 81904-1905) and analysed the form of visual propaganda and patriotism that the images promote. I also examine how the Russo-Japanese war was recieved in Denmark, as a means to find out how these war prints ended up in the collection of Designmuseum Danmark.

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