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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Dressing Bodies, Dressing Spaces: Challenges and New Approaches to Textiles and Adornment (300-1600) / Habiller le corps, Habiller l’espace: Enjeux et approches aux textiles et à l'adornement (300- 1600)

Elizabeth Dospel Williams 1, Patricia Blessing 2, Eiren Shea 3, Maximilien Durand 4

Dumbarton Oaks - Washington, Dc (United States), 2 Princeton University (United States), 3 Grinnell College - Grinnell, Iowa (United States), 3Musée Du Louvre - Paris, France (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Holistic consideration of the interrelationships of pre- and early modern bodies and spaces across Eurasia (300—1600) has been limited by conceptual frameworks divided into geographic, temporal, and methodological specialization. Thus, work on dress has dealt with personal appearance, highlighting questions about identity through clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Likewise, scholarship on interior decoration has considered the relationship of ephemeral design elements to permanent architectural forms through function and placement. Further, scholarship on the body’s presence in space has tended to work with movement, placement, and perception of abstracted bodies, rather than concrete figures weighed down by clothing and jewels.

These approaches, divided largely by medium, reflect art historiographical biases and technical specializations which silo, on the one hand, experts in textiles (weaving), jewelry (metalwork), and sculpture (architecture), or of art historians, archaeologists, and architectural historians, on the other. Similar divisions of body and interior also occur in the broader perspective of material culture theory, while modernist aesthetics have further obscured the interrelatedness of human form and spatial environment. Museum contexts reinforce this divide: objects tend to be isolated within cases, leading to a view of these pieces as context-free, while the museumification of historical spaces means that attendant furnishings are often displayed in special exhibition spaces, whereas historical rooms lie empty.

The proposed panel considers adorned human bodies in their spatial environments to forge new theoretical frameworks drawn from decorative arts historiography, ornament studies, sensory archaeology, anthropology, and material spatiality. An intermedial approach is essential, such as advocated in Luke Lavan and Ellen Swift’s (2009) work on late antique dress and interior decoration and in Jonathan Hay’s (2010) explorations of the somatic experiences of surfaces in early modern Chinese decorative arts objects. Recent efforts to draw together diverse Eurasian experiences of dress and furnishing textiles include a conference on medieval wearables at the Bard Graduate Center (2022) and a panel on embodied movement and interior decoration at the ICMS-Kalamazoo (2023).