Session Title

Sculpture and Its Potency II: Speech, Song, Prayer

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Julia Perratore, Lloyd de Beer

Organizer Affiliation

Metropolitan Museum of Art, British Museum

Presider Name

Julia Perratore

Paper Title 1

Devotional Performance and the Opportunity for Play in Medieval Cloister Sculpture

Presenter 1 Name

Peter Scott Brown

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of North Florida

Paper Title 2

Singing, Shouting, Thundering: Voice in the Portal of Santa Maria de Ripoll

Presenter 2 Name

Matthew J. Westerby

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Paper Title 3

Speaking Statues

Presenter 3 Name

Kim Woods

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Open Univ.

Start Date

14-5-2016 3:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1155

Description

Do sculptures speak? Can they listen? Are they able to read, sing, and engage with other sculptures, or the architecture of their surroundings? If so, is this connected to their context and placement? How do these questions affect the way in which we view sculpture and its performativity? In seeking to answer these and related questions, this session will address the manifold ways in which sculpture could potentially address its viewers, and, by extension, listen. The interactive nature of much medieval art, and particularly sculpture, suggests that viewers’ engagement with mute three-dimensional images could extend to an imagined oral/aural exchange. Sculptural evocations of speech were carved onto the body, in the parted lips of the Virgin or the emphatic gesture of a saint. They could also be engraved across the unfurled banderole of a prophet or in the titulus of a capital. In other instances, a sculpture might seem to take part within a multisensory experience of space or ritual, as the figures of a narrative frieze might be activated by music. Alternatively, an image may simply stay silent and listen, as a cult statue might amid the prayers of the faithful. Impressions of speech in medieval sculpture have even carried over into historiography, as attested by the “speaking reliquaries” of the German tradition. The papers of this session may approach issues of speech and listening in a variety of ways, considering a wide range of sculptural forms, materials and techniques across the medieval period as a whole.

Julia Perratore

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May 14th, 3:30 PM

Sculpture and Its Potency II: Speech, Song, Prayer

Schneider 1155

Do sculptures speak? Can they listen? Are they able to read, sing, and engage with other sculptures, or the architecture of their surroundings? If so, is this connected to their context and placement? How do these questions affect the way in which we view sculpture and its performativity? In seeking to answer these and related questions, this session will address the manifold ways in which sculpture could potentially address its viewers, and, by extension, listen. The interactive nature of much medieval art, and particularly sculpture, suggests that viewers’ engagement with mute three-dimensional images could extend to an imagined oral/aural exchange. Sculptural evocations of speech were carved onto the body, in the parted lips of the Virgin or the emphatic gesture of a saint. They could also be engraved across the unfurled banderole of a prophet or in the titulus of a capital. In other instances, a sculpture might seem to take part within a multisensory experience of space or ritual, as the figures of a narrative frieze might be activated by music. Alternatively, an image may simply stay silent and listen, as a cult statue might amid the prayers of the faithful. Impressions of speech in medieval sculpture have even carried over into historiography, as attested by the “speaking reliquaries” of the German tradition. The papers of this session may approach issues of speech and listening in a variety of ways, considering a wide range of sculptural forms, materials and techniques across the medieval period as a whole.

Julia Perratore