Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean
Speaker: Dr. Nassos Papalexandrou, The University of Texas at Austin
February 5, 2015, 6pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Business and Administration Building, C Wing (BAC) Room 116
The visual apparatus of Orientalizing cauldrons introduced radically new technologies of visual engagement in the Preclassical Mediterranean of the seventh century BCE. Hitherto the Orientalizing innovation has been understood in terms of the wholesale importation or adaptation of objects, techniques, iconographies from the Near East. Dr. Papalexandrou’s study proposes instead that change was ushered in by a radical shift in ways of seeing and interacting with what today we call “art.” The new technologies of visual engagement (new ways of seeing and being seen) he explores in this study reshaped the cognitive and aesthetic apparatus of viewing subjects. He argues that the griffin cauldrons were devised to establish an aesthetic of rare and extraordinary experiences within the experiential realm of early Greek sanctuaries or in sympotic events of princely elites of Orientalizing Italy. This aesthetic was premised on active visual engagement as performance motivated and sustained by the materiality of these objects.
Professor Papalexandrou received his Ph.D. from Princeton University focusing on the ritual dimensions of Early Greek figurative art. Prior to teaching at The University of Texas at Austin, he taught at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and spent the 2001-02 academic year as a research fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC. His first book, The Visual Poetics of Power: Warriors, Youths, and Tripods in Early Greece, was published in 2005. He is currently working on a second book that explores the role of monsters in the arts and rituals of Early Greece. He is currently involved in two projects that have to do with the archaeology of ancient Italy. One focuses on the translation/reception of the Greek tripod cauldron in Magna Graecia and Sicily in the Geometric, Archaic, and Classical periods. The other has to do with the importation and emulation of griffin cauldrons from the Aegean to Italy, especially Etruria, in the Archaic period.
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