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Celeste Guichard delivers conference paper at the Midwest Art History Society Conference

May 3, 2010

Prof. Celeste Guichard recently participated in the annual Midwest Art History Society Conference, held this year from April 8th to 10th in Omaha, and provided the following report:

The session theme was Concepts of Classical Monumentality in Antiquity and the Present and, taken together, the papers gave a wonderful sense of the scope and complexity of both ancient manipulations of the “monumental” and modern perspectives on those manipulations.  Philip Sapirstein (Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania) suggested that construction-site activity, particularly the crafting of massive, highly-colored roofing elements and the herculean labor of hoisting them into place, was a crucial element in the of creation of monumental architecture in sanctuaries. John Senseney (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) presented his innovative work on ancient architectural drawings and demonstrated the ingenuity with which architects translated their manageable, small-scale work drawings into large-scale structures with sophisticated refinements. Christopher Stackowicz (Bethel College) examined the effect that 18th and 19th-century images of ancient structures have had on our contemporary understanding of Greek monumental buildings and the landscapes they inhabited. Robin Rhodes (University of Notre Dame) spoke on the stunning work of Tomas Rivás, a Chilean contemporary artist who explores the process of translating design from 2-D into 3-D as it occurred in the early stages of the development of monumental Greek architecture.  His contemporary translations of this process are rendered in materials such as sheetrock and, of all things, lard with truly gorgeous results.

My paper contributed to this session by considering the etymological significance of monumentum in conjunction with an architectural renovation project undertaken by Hadrian, that of the temple to Dionysos at Teos in Asia Minor.  Monumentum, the Latin basis for the English word ‘monumentality’, was used by the Romans in relation to the activation of memory and my paper focused on how Hadrian both followed precedent and established his own process for activating memories concerning the unifying apparti of the Greeks prior to Roman presence in the Greek East, and those of the Romans once they had established dominance in this region.  I focused on the Hadrianic temple restoration at Teos in order to explore the facture on “monumentality” at a location where architecture, imperial initiative, piety and the admonition to follow tradition intersected.

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