Fragmentary Excess: Body, Text, Receptacle

Bodies in Relief

The objects in this section exist somewhere in between two- and three-dimensional. They are bodies in relief, half bodies reliant on their ground, be it architecture, pottery, or ivory. The two Roman Arretine Terra Sigillata fragments are decorated with two female figures, one winged. Emerging from the smooth surface of these vessels, these fragmented bodies begin to assert themselves into the three-dimensional world, but ultimately remained tied to their material background. 

The intriguing Etruscan Terracotta Female Veiled Half Head is a rare example of a body made in relief, but dislocated from its ground. Given her size, the Female Veiled Half Head (and the rest of her body) would most likely have been attached to an architectural structure, or at least placed against a wall, never meant to be viewed from the round. Extracted from her context, she is doubly fragmented - she has lost her body, and the truth of her half-body is voyeuristically exposed.
These three plaster casts depicting Christ’s Ascension, an Ottonian court, and the Romance of the Roses, represent a scant fraction of the over six hundred fictile ivories held in Special Collections at Bryn Mawr College. Made of the finest Paris plaster and painted by hand, these nineteenth-century casts capture intricate medieval bodies in a new medium. Such objects were originally created as reproductions of medieval carved ivories to aid scholars in the study of the originals, but they now act as artifacts in their own right. Representing both medieval artistic intention and nineteenth-century antiquarian interests, the represented bodies are doubly removed from their original state. At once fragmentary and whole, how can we understand such bodies divorced from their narrative contexts? 


This page has paths:

This page references: