Spaces of Initiation
Objects, Images, and Rituals in the Middle Ages
Brno, Hans Belting Library, 11–13 March 2019
Klára L. Doležalová, Masaryk University, Brno
Ivan Foletti, Masaryk University, Brno / Ca’ Foscari University, Venice
Vladimir Ivanovici, Masaryk University, Brno / Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio
Since Late Antiquity, ‘initiation’ has played an important role in the creation of artistic and cultural environments. In Christian context, baptisteries, as well as pre- and post-baptismal zones were lavishly decorated in order to emphasise the role of ‘life changing’ rituals. Significant financial investment shows the importance and value given to these rituals in society. It could even be argued that the artistic and architectural emphasis of the monuments may have played a crucial role in the Christianisation of Europe. Conversion would’ve been facilitated through material culture. In addition to that, it seems clear that it is impossible to distinguish between the different senses and the media involved in these processes. Sound, smell, touch, light and other polysensorial inputs completed the visual and architectural setting. Rituals were the gathering force uniting all these elements. These aspects were finally activated by the movement of bodies of both clerical “professionals” and neophytes.
During the Middle Ages, other rituals dealing with inclusion into diverse communities were conceived or transformed. With the spread of child baptism in Christian Europe, society needed other rituals dedicated to adults, such as consecration to monastic life, priesthood, or the bishopric. Once more, they
stood in deep dialogue with the world of art. The interaction between visual culture, architectural space, and ritual together enabled the process of ‘initiation’. This conference therefore intends to explore precisely these interactions and dialogues, with a special focus on baptism.
Proposals from diverse cultures are welcomed, as well as comparative studies of initiation rituals. The main topic of the conference will be the dialogue between material/artistic culture, rituals, and the world of ideas. Papers examining just one of these aspects are also welcome.
The organization will provide accommodation and catering for all participants; additionally, partial or complete funding is available to support travel expenses.
Vladimir Ivanovici, Postdoctoral fellow, The Center for Early Medieval Studies, Masaryk University, Brno. Department of Art History, Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts, Arna Nováka 1, 602 00 Brno, The Czech Republic.