Performing Collective Identity: Bodies and Objects of Early-Modern Processions


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"At the intersection of art and ritual, processional paraphernalia endorse crucial roles for collective identity: creating and maintaining group unity, building solidarity in the face of crises, and possibly offering disruptions of law and order or signaling outcasts. The aesthetic appeal of carefully-crafted artefacts (from candles to flags, canopies, reliquaries, etc) is essential but must be studied together with performativity, objects being the material essence of ritual.

The conditions of their display, the precise modes of their manipulation, and their staged fixity or mobility enable them to turn into symbolic, powerful agents. External signs of identity like uniforms, badges, banners, or statues belong to this phenomenon. In this seminar, I will present how consensual behavior and shared body language affect the power of objects and images for collective identity, with examples from Perugia, Venice, and Rome. I will address questions on research methods for a cross-disciplinary approach to (art) history and discuss visual representations while critically evaluating different types of evidence." Pascale Rihouet

Speaker: Pascale Rihouet (Rhode Island School of Design) Respondents: Lilla Mátyók-Engel, Carlotta Paltrinieri (Bibliotheca Hertziana). Pascale Rihouet (PhD Brown University / EHESS) is senior lecturer in art history at the Rhode Island School of Design. She has widely published on Renaissance art and ritual, early-modern material culture and group identity in English, French and Italian. Her first book, Art Moves: The Material Culture of Processions in Renaissance Perugia (Brepols, 2019) was followed by Eternal Ephemera: The Papal Possesso and its Legacies in Early Modern Rome (Toronto University Press, 2020) that she co-edited and co-authored. She is currently working on the whole production of possesso prints (1589–1846), images of the newly-elected pope’s parade through Rome.


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Theory & History of Art & Design


Theory & History of Art & Design, THAD, collective identity, symbolism, ritual, artifacts, material culture, performance, procession, objects


Art and Design | History

Performing Collective Identity: Bodies and Objects of Early-Modern Processions