Animism, Materiality, and Museums: How Do Byzantine Things Feel?

This book argues for the need to integrate

museum-based experiential qualities into

discussion of Byzantine art in order to reach

fuller, deeper, more ethical explanations of

this culture than are habitually given.

ISBN-13: 9781942401742

Byzantine art is normally explained as devotional, historical, highly intellectualized, but this book argues for an experiential necessity for a fuller, deeper, more ethical approach to this art. Written in response to an exhibition the author curated at The Menil Collection in 2013, this monograph challenges us to search for novel ways to explore and interrogate the art of this distant culture. They marshal diverse disciplines—modern art, environmental theory, anthropology—to argue that Byzantine culture formed a special kind of Christian animism. While completely foreign to our world, that animism still holds important lessons for approaches to our own relations to the world. Mutual probings of subject and art, of past and present, arise in these essays—some new and some previously published—and new explanations therefore open up that will interest historians of art, museum professionals, and anyone interested in how art makes and remakes the world.

Contents

Introducing Things and Relation
Object Relations: Theorizing the Late Antique Viewer
Late Antique Making and Wonder
Transfiguring Materialities: Relational Abstraction in Byzantium and its Exhibition
An Anarchéologie of Icons
Adam’s Athropocene
Sense Lives of Byzantine Things
Senses’ Other Sides
Showing Byzantine Materiality
Framing and Conserving Byzantine Art: Experiences of Relative Identity
Real Living Painting: Quasi-Objects and Dividuation in the Byzantine World: We Have Never
Been Byzantine: On Analogy