CAA 2018

CAA 2018

February 21

Art and Power: Methodological Case Studies

Chair: Patricia Eunji Kim, University of Pennsylvania

1. Fleshed Out: The Gendered Dynamics of Dynasty and Display in the Ancient Mediterranean (Fourth Century BCE)

Author: Patricia Eunji Kim, University of Pennsylvania

2. Architectural Mechanics of Power in Julianus Argentarius' Ravenna (ca. 522–49 CE)
Author: Kaelin Jewell, Temple University

3. A Hell Built for the Living: A Study of the Hell Tableaux at Baodingshan, Dazu

Author: Zhao Yi, University of Kansas


This panel reflects on the ways that various political stakeholders have mobilized visual and material culture as expressions of power across cultures, historical periods, systems of knowledge, and geographies. With a particular focus on pre-modern cultures, the case studies analyze a wide range of objects, images, and monuments that include commemorative sculpture, urban architecture, illuminated paintings, and monumental cave shrines. These cross-cultural and trans-temporal conversations offer generative possibilities for new methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks to explore a number of issues around power in art history: from the aesthetics of sovereignty; to objects and monuments as technologies of power; to the intimate relationship between text and image in formulating political ideology; to concerns around authorship and patronage as a means to reiterate and reinforce power. Discussions of political power and art demand engagements with broader questions interrogating how power is formulated, maintained, and perpetuated. For instance, how do various vectors of identity—gender, status, religious affiliation—simultaneously generate asymmetrical power relations and inflect the way that supremacy is performed? In this vein, the papers each address how ideologies and aesthetics of political might were translated to diverse audiences and across geopolitical borderlines, while also grappling with the problem of interpreting visual and material culture from the distant past in the present moment.

Patricia Eunji KimComment