Violent imagery in medieval art reveals a parade of brutal acts: various stages of decapitation, splitting skulls, amputating limbs, enucleating eyes, yanking teeth, cutting off breasts, and other repugnant horrors. Often stripped of direct devotional context and thus presented as violence inflicted upon the imagined bodies of the depicted saints, these portrayals also attacked the body and mind of the viewers, accumulating into a physically and emotionally moving violence: the images incorporate time, space, and motion through movement in the staging of the scenes, which, in turn, stimulated both emotional and bodily reactions in the viewers. It also encouraged the audience to move with and around the images. Suggesting an imaginative somatic experience to the beholders, these images negotiate discourses on the nature of violence, bodily integrity, and the self, and transgress the boundaries between object and subject, representation and viewers, past and present, imagination and historicism.
This conference seeks to explore the complex of rhetoric and response forms to violence imagery, whether in devotional, liturgical, or secular contexts: namely, in the juridical, moral, and ethical discourses. It also seeks to explore how the changing definition of the term violence, whether in textual or visual sources, constitutes the watershed of a given culture, civilization, and their notion of individuality.
To learn more: https://arthist.net/archive/17575