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8 giugno 2021: Caroline van Eck: “Ah, je me sens”. Sculpture viewing in the 19th century in Rome and Paris

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PIS – Performing Identities Studies Seminars on line 2020-2021: "The Statue"

Caroline van Eck(King’s  College, Cambridge)

“Ah, je me sens”. Sculpture viewing in the 19th century in Rome and Paris

8 giugno 2021, ore 17:00-19:00.

In diretta nella virtual room (piattaforma Zoom).

Per partecipare scrivere a pis@unimi.it per ottenere il link alla stanza Zoom. 


'Ah, je me sens': this is what Pygmalion's bride exclaims in Rousseau's melodrama Pygmalion when the transformation from inanimate statue to living, conscious being is achieved. It would be echoed many times in the final decades of the eighteenth century, but not so much by statues coming alive as by viewers who would touch statues, and in doing so felt themselves to become fully alive. Claiming that statues were so lifelike that they seemed to be alive had been a topos in rhetorical ekphrasis and literary criticism from Antiquity onwards, but around 1800 a fundamental change took place. As a result of Kant's writings on the disinterested nature of aesthetic enjoyment such responses had become increasingly suspect -- Hegel would speak of 'hervontatschelnde Kunstfreunde', or groping art lovers -- and would be dismissed into the realms of hysteria and primitivism. Yet despite the impact of German Idealist aesthetics, museum visitors would continue to enjoy settings in which statues would appear to be alive, and seek out the uncanny frisson of the inanimate seeming to be alive. The torch-lit visit and the tableau-vivant would remain very popular until the 1830s as the occasions for such experiences.

In my talk I will first discuss a series of accounts of such viewing of sculpture to understand the contemporary dispositif imaginaire that would encourage viewers to let go of their normal awareness that statues are inanimate blocks of stone and to engage instead in all kinds of imaginative scenarios in which the statues appear to be alive, sentient, conscious, and endowed with an inner life and biography. In the second part I will then contrast these dispositifs with the account Alfred Gell gave of such responses in terms of agency, animacy and personhood.

La partecipazione è fortemente raccomandata agli allievi del Scuola di Dottorato in Filosofia e Scienze dell’Uomo.

Tutti gli interessati sono invitati a partecipare.

Organizzazione: prof.ssa Chiara Cappelletto.

08 giugno 2021
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