A História Cultural

Roger Chartier - A História Cultural entre Práticas e Representações

Programa Vesalius Rio

Ref. Educação, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 2015


Vesalius Rio Program

Other available versions: Portuguese | Spanish

Education: The Vesalius Rio Program 2014/2015

Consulate of Belgium in Rio de Janeiro

Vesalius Rio Program
Artwork as Expressive Interdisciplinar Structure

Mariano Akerman

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2014/2015

Vesalius Rio 2015: An Educational Program

In a Europe where, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, still prevailed some considerable darkness of preconception of the actual internal constitution of the human body, Andreas Vesalius was able to develop unprecedented practices and work involving the first complete dissection of the human body, which was studied and described in detail.

Resulting from the use of the empirical method, Vesalius's amazing discoverings were registered in his treatise, De humani corporis fabrica (1534), an illustrated work on anatomy characterized by its systematic approach and scientific precision.

Up to now Vesalius's contribution is of cardinal importance to anatomists. Vesalius himself is also appreciated as a pioneer in the fight against preconception via scientific research.

"Sentence first—verdict afterwards" demanded from her irrationality the Queen of Hearts in a well-known nineteenth-century literary work. Four hundred years before, however, Vesalius had already went beyond diverse irrationalities then prevalent in his society and, what is even more important, he had done so in a deductive and truly convincing manner.

Inspired by the light coming from the Renaissance anatomist's modus operandi, the Vesalius Rio Program reexamines the Visual Arts as a discipline.

Mariano Akerman explores the didactic nature of Vesalius's anatomical treatise illustrations; studies the particularities of Hebraic symbolism in the Middle Ages, reconsiders the Western allegories of Faith; discovers the existential origins of Sephardic creativity; meditates on the last intentions that shape both totalitarian propaganda and visual imagery bearing witness and/or recalling the most terrible genocide in history. He also examines the importance of the Imaginary in Brazilian and Argentinean artworks, to reconnect them to some of their respective European sources.

Throughout his methodical approach, Vesalius illuminated numerous aspects of a reality hardly known and mostly considered from prejudice in his time. Evoking the deductive method of Vesalius and dealing with a diversity of topics in an analogous manner, the Vesalius Rio Program aims to clarify a series of important topics that still remain obscure and yet demand an endodermic research of the Anatomy of Art.


1 Sacred Text and Visual Arts
2 Checkmate to the Queen
3 A Time for Everything
Series: "Cultural Heritage and Identity"
Centro de Estudos Bíblicos
R. Gen. Severiano 170 - Botafogo
2, 9 September, 21 October 2014

4 Hebraic Symbolism: Its Particularities
 and Representations in the Middle Ages

Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
Escola de História - 6ª Jornada de Estudos Medievais
Av. Pasteur 458 - Urca
2 September 2015

5 Culture and Propaganda
6 Tragedy and Remembrance
7 Memory and Education
Series: "Cultural Legacy and Remebrance"
Associação Scholem Aleichem de Cultura e Recreação
São Clemente 155, Botafogo
4, 18, 25 October 2015

8 Vesalius: Man in the Center
Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Rio de Janeiro
Casa d'Italia, Av. Presidente Antonio Carlos 40, 4º andar - Centro
15 October 2015

9 The Sephardic Contribution to the Visual Arts
Instituto Cervantes
R. Visc. de Ouro Preto, 62 - Botafogo
28 October 2015

10 Artists' Dreams and Configurations of the Imaginary
•• Instituto Cultural Brasil-Argentina
•• Praia de Botafogo 228, Sobreloja, Botafogo
•• 5 November 2015

11 Yesterday and Today: Allegories of Faith in Western Art
•• Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro
•• Departamento de Teologia - 50º Aniversario da Declaração Nostra Aetate
•• R. Marquês de São Vicente, 225 - Gávea
•• 10 November 2015

12 Expressions in Copacabana: The Inner Constellations
•• Residence of Belgium
•• Av. Atlântica, Posto 5
•• 19 November 2015

Lecture 4. Architect and Art History researcher, Akerman studies the relative abscence of the human figure in the Hebraic tradition (aniconism), exploring the relationship between sacred text and visual imagery, to characterize the particularities and various representations involving Hebraic symbolism in the Middle Ages.

Mariano Akerman
Born in Buenos Aires in 1963, Mariano Akerman is a painter, architect and art historian. Working as a researcher and a lecturer, Akerman also develops educational activities that encourage free expression and communitarian involvement of participants while considering their cultural background.
Akerman studied at the School of Architecture of Universidad de Belgrano (Argentina), completing his formation with a prized graduation project on boundaries and space in Modern Architecture (1987). Abroad from 1991 onwards, he received a British Council Grant to research the artwork of Francis Bacon at Marlborough Fine Art and the Tate Gallery in London. Akerman is author of The Grotesque in Francis Bacon’s Paintings (1999) and "Bacon, Painter with a Double-Edged Sword" (2012).
In Asia, Mariano Akerman developed the educational series of conferences The Belgian Contribution to the Visual Arts (2005), In the Spirit of Linnaeus (2007), Discovering Belgian Art (2008-9), Raisons d’être: Art, Freedom and Modernity (2010), German Art (2010), and The Gestalt Educational Program (2011).
Specializing in Visual Communication, Akerman lectures on modern art at institutions such as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila, the Star of Hope School in Taytay, the National College of Arts in Lahore, the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, and the Biblical Studies Center of Rio de Janeiro.
Specialized in Visual Communication, Akerman develops seminars, workshops and educational exhibitions, working together with the embassies and consulates of Belgium, Sweden, France, Germany, Switzerland, and those of his native country as well. Akerman has received twelve international prizes in art and education.

Vesalius Rio Program: Anatomy of Art
Artwork as Expressive Interdisciplinar Structure

Vesalius Rio Program
Rebel and Pioneer
Cultural Heritage and Identity
Synagoga et Ecclesia in Our Time
Expressions in Copacabana
Mariano Akerman, CV and References

Vesalius Rio Program: Anatomy of Art
Artwork as Expressive Interdisciplinar Structure
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2014/2015

Andreae Vesalii Bruxellensis

The Consulate of Belgum in Rio de Janeiro
Rua Lauro Muller 116/602, Torre do Rio Sul - Botafogo


Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time

Joshua Koffman, Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time, maquette, April 2015

1. SJU Announces Details of Sculpture to Mark 50 Years of New Catholic-Jewish Relationship, SJU, Philadelphia, 24.4.2015

PHILADELPHIA (April 24) – Saint Joseph’s University has formally commissioned local artist Joshua Koffman to craft an original sculpture entitled, “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time.” To be situated prominently on the campus near the Chapel of Saint Joseph–Michael J. Smith, S.J. Memorial, Koffman’s preliminary design has been completed and work on the final statue has begun.

The sculpture is part of the University's celebration with the Philadelphia Jewish community of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate (Latin for its opening words, “In Our Time”). That 1965 statement repudiated centuries of Christian claims that Jews were blind enemies of God whose spiritual life was obsolete. The document called instead for friendship and dialogue between Catholics and Jews. Shortly after, what was then Saint Joseph’s College became the first American Catholic college to respond to this appeal by establishing the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations. The sculpture will also memorialize the Institute’s work and mission.

On numerous medieval cathedrals statues of the female allegorical figures of Church (Ecclesia) and Synagogue (Synagoga) portrayed the triumph of Christianity over Judaism. Ecclesia is crowned, majestic and victorious. Synagoga is defeated and blindfolded, her crown fallen at her feet.

"In 1965, Nostra Aetate rejected such images, declaring that Jews are beloved by an ever-faithful God whose promises are irrevocable," says University President, C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. ’72. "The statue of 'Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time' will portray Jews and Christians using the medieval figures in a strikingly different way to express Catholic teaching today."

According to Institute Director Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., the new sculpture will employ Synagoga and Ecclesia rendered with nobility and grace, to bring to life the words of Pope Francis: “Dialogue and friendship with the Jewish people are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. There exists between us a rich complementarity that allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another mine the riches of God’s word.” The work will depict the figures enjoying studying each other’s sacred texts together.

“The sculpture will vividly convey what Pope Francis has called the ‘journey of friendship’ that Jews and Catholics have experienced in the past five decades,” observes Jewish Studies professor and Institute Assistant Director, Adam Gregerman, Ph.D. “We are looking forward to area Jews and Catholics coming together to celebrate the remarkable rapprochement that is occurring.”

Artist Joshua Koffman is a Philadelphia-based sculptor known for his expressive and dramatic large-scale bronze sculptures. The recipient of many distinguished awards including the Alex J. Ettl Grant, the John Cavanaugh Memorial Prize, and First Place in the Grand Central Academy’s Sculpture Competition, he pursued formal art education at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he currently teaches.

“I am certainly looking forward to creating a sculpture that will communicate an incredibly unique and important message that will be central to such an extraordinary occasion as this historic anniversary,” Koffman says.

2. The Medieval Motif of Synagoga and Ecclesia and Its Transformation in a Post-Nostra Aetate Church, SJU, April 2015

In the Middle Ages, the feminine figures of Ecclesia (Church) and Synagoga (Synagogue) were a familiar motif in Christian art. It was a visual presentation of the understanding of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism that prevailed in that era. Mary C. Boys has described it as follows:

We can see a [particular] pattern in the Christian iconography of the dual figures Synagoga and Ecclesia. For many Christians of the Middle Ages, the status of Judaism evoked images from Lamentations (1:1; 5:16-17):

How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
has become a vassal.

The crown has fallen from our head;
woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our hearts are sick,
because of these things our eyes have grown dim.

Like Leah of the weak eyes (see Genesis 29:17), Synagoga was blind to Christ. As second-century apologist Justin Martyr said to the Jew Trypho, "Leah is your people and the synagogue, while Rachel is our church ...; Leah has weak eyes, and the eyes of your spirit are also weak." Synagoga symbolizes an obsolete Judaism.

In some depictions of this allegorical pair, we see a triumphant Ecclesia standing erect next to the bowed, blindfolded figure of the defeated yet dignified Synagoga (e.g., the thirteenth-century stone figures in the cathedrals of Strasbourg, Freiburg, Bamberg, Magdeburg, Reims, and Notre Dame [Paris]). Though the church has triumphed over synagogue, the latter is a tragic rather than sinister figure--a woman conquered, with her crown fallen, staff broken, and Torah dropping to the ground. ...

Other representations of Synagoga, particularly in the Late Middle Ages, present a more contemptible figure. For example, in a fifteenth-century portrayal of the crucifixion, Ecclesia holds a chalice to receive the blood from the pierced heart of Jesus, whereas Synagoga turns away from him, in the clasp of a devil who rides atop her neck and blinds her to the Christ by covering her eyes. The association with the devil evokes a malevolent Synagoga. ... Many [Medieval Christians] would have viewed the figures of Synagoga and Ecclesia, and thereby absorbed a dangerous lesson: Judaism no longer has reason to exist (Mary C. Boys, Has God Only One Blessing? - Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding, Paulist Press, 2000, 31-35).

Contrast this long-lived derogatory Christian attitude toward Judaism with these recent words of Pope Francis:

We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). ... Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians. God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 2014, 247-249).

Clearly Catholic attitudes have changed. A new relationship of respect has replaced the previous one of disdain. The turning point was the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate, issued on October 28, 1965.

The statue being prepared for Saint Joseph's University to mark the declaration's 50th anniversary will reinterpret the medieval motif of Synagoga and Ecclesia to reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church today. "Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time" will depict Synaogue and Church as both proud crowned women, living in covenant with God side by side, and learning from one another’s sacred texts and traditions about their distinctive experiences of the Holy One.

3. Sculpting a New Tradition: From Adversaries to Two Peoples in Covenant to Study Partners, SJU, April-July 2015

In Medieval Europe, the feminine figures of victorious Church (Ecclesia) and vanquished Synagogue (Synagoga) adorned dozens of cathedrals and churches. A famous depiction at the Cathedral of Strasbourg (ca. 1230) shows regal Church wearing a crown and bearing a cross-topped staff of authority and the chalice of the Eucharist. To the right, Synagogue is slumped and blindfolded, her crown has fallen to her feet, her staff is broken, and a tattered scroll of the Torah seems about to fall from her hand. Ill. Strasbourg

The figures also were regularly portrayed on either side of the crucified Jesus. Here in an early 15th century German Bible history book, Church collects the precious blood of Jesus into her chalice. Synagogue's vision is blocked by a demon on her head, who also casts off her crown.

When Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy at the Cathedral of Milan on May 26, 1805, he ordered that work to complete its façade should begin at once. Seven years later, the traditional images of Synagogue and Church were transformed into somewhat secularized figures to show the legal equality of all religions in the Napoleonic state. Church is the Lady of Liberty of Enlightenment-era political thought, while Synagogue displays the universal philosophy of the Ten Commandments. Ill. Milan statues

In the first decades of the 20th century, the American artist John Singer Sargent reprised the medieval images of Synagogue and Church in paintings for the Boston Public Library. As in the older portrayals, she has lost her crown, her staff is broken, and her eyes are blindfolded. Although she retained some dignity in many medieval depictions, here she is thoroughly desolate. Such demeaning images contradict Catholic teaching since the Second Vatican Council's 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate. Ill. John Singer Sargent, Synagogue

For her book, Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding (Paulist Press, 2000), Mary C. Boys commissioned Paula Mary Turnbull, a member of her religious community, to prepare small brass statues of Synagoga and Ecclesia as both in covenant with God. This idea of reimagining the negative medieval motif to reflect Catholic teaching since Nostra Aetate inspired the SJU sculpture to mark the declaration's 50th anniversary: "Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time." Ill. Paula Turnbull statuettes

With this basic premise, a number of artists were invited to submit concept sketches. One of Joshua Koffman's earliest clay drafts appealingly showed Church and Synagogue as comfortable being with and interacting with each other.

This interactive dynamic recalled the words of Pope Benedict XVI in 2011: "After centuries of antagonism, we now see it as our task to bring these two ways of rereading the biblical texts—the Christian way and the Jewish way—into dialogue with one another, if we are to understand God's will and his word aright." This led to the concept of portraying Synagogue and Church as sharing their respective sacred texts with each other, crudely suggested by inserting clip art texts to show them learning together.

Joshua Koffman took this basic concept and significantly developed it in another rough clay sketch. Besides having them holding their sacred texts, he added simple crowns to both figures, using that medieval symbol to indicate that both Synagogue and Church experience covenantal life with God.

In the final clay sketch before doing drapery studies for the Artist's Model, Joshua Koffman refined the Torah scroll and Christian Bible and how they are grasped. The image of Synagogue and Church reading together evokes the traditional Jewish chavruta method of studying the Talmud in pairs.

After doing drapery studies with live models, the larger Artist's Model is completed. The Torah scroll and Christian Bible are more substantial and are held in complementary ways. As Pope Francis has written: "God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason ... there exists as well a rich complementarity [between us] which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word" [Evangelii Gaudium, 249].

4. Murray Watson, ICCJ concludes Annual Meeting in Rome, CCJR, 1.7.2015

(ROME) In a historic gathering in the Vatican on June 30, Pope Francis welcomed more than 250 Jewish and Christian leaders from the International Council of Christians and Jews. The Pope met with them to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the ground-breaking Vatican II declaration “Nostra Aetate,” which opened up new horizons in the Catholic Church’s approach to interfaith relations. [...]

The new statue of Ecclesia and Synagoga (Church and Synagogue) has been commissioned by Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia to honour the Nostra Aetate anniversary.

In contrast to the many portrayals of Ecclesia and Synagoga found in medieval cathedrals and manuscripts (which generally portrayed Ecclesia as triumphant, and Synagoga as defeated), this modern work of art depicts the two figures as equal in dignity and beauty, looking with curiosity and respect at the books of each other’s respective Scriptures.

This statue, reflective of the Jewish tradition of partnered Torah-study (havrutah), speaks of the new type of relationship that Nostra Aetate both encouraged and has helped to make possible. Today, many Jews and Christians are mutually enriched by their study of the other’s religious traditions and texts, and this statue points to those new possibilities for friendship and learning in each other’s company.

"My representational work begins with the human. It is heavily influenced by tradition, serves a function, and speaks to a timeless audience. I first create the compositions in clay, mold them, and then cast them in bronze"
Joshua Koffman
All images reproduced with the sculptor's permission.

Joshua Koffman: Sculpture Website
The Vesalius-Rio Program


Synagoga's Blindfold: Its Symbolism

Synagoga: Venerable yet Vulnerable

The Symbolism of Synagoga's Blindfold

• Synagoga is blinfolded, not to see the Messiah.[1]

• In pre-humanist tradition, the blindfold signified a disability.[¿]

• The female figure of blindfolded Synagoga, which adorned many late medieval churches, was a visible and public testimony and reminder of the failure of the Jews to recognize their Messiah. With a veil or blindfold covering her eyes, and sometimes holding a broken standard which served as a contrast to the victorious Ecclesia, Synagoga was a permanent sign of Jewish blindness and stubborness, which had led Jews to murder their unrecognised saviour.[?]

• Synagoga is blinfolded, as Jews refuse to see that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and so that Judaism has become obsolete.[+]

• The blindfold represents moral or spiritual blindness or darkness, sin, and ignorance.[2]

• Covered eyes once had negative connotations. A blindfolded and bent figure, Synagoga, representing the Old Testament, denoted that Judaism was blind to the light of Christianity.[3]

• Synagoga is blindfolded, symbolizing the blindfold her blindness to the truth of the New Testament.[4]

• The blindfold symbolizes exclusion, for the Jews had rejected the Messiah and medieval Christian culture held the Jews irredeemably responsible for killing Christ.[5]

• Synagoga is blindfolded, because she has not yet recognized the revelation of Jesus Christ.[6]

1. Shalom Sabar, Jerusalem, March 2013 (StudyBlue).
¿. Also Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 63.

?. Brian P. Levack, Demonology, Religion, and Witchcraft: New Perspectives on Witchcraft, Magic, and Demonology (2002), Routledge, 2013, p. 181 and n. 96, where he refers to Gertrud Schiller, Ikonograhie der christlichen Kunst, 4 vols., Gütersloh, 1976, vol. 4, pt. 1, pp. 45-56, 242-55.
+. Cf. Nina Rowe, The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City: Synagoga and Ecclesia in the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge UP, 2014.
2. Mary Ann Sullivan, Ecclesia et Synagoga, Bluffton University, Ohio: "Church and Synagogue were common allegorical figures in the Middle Ages. Draped females, they are ways of representing the transition from the Old Law to the New. Church typically wears a crown, carries a cross, and holds a chalice, representing the Redeemer's blood. Synagogue is always a blindfolded figure, the blindfold representing moral or spiritual blindness or darkness, sin, and ignorance. Often a crown falls from the inclined head of Synagogue and the Tables of the Law fall from her hands."
3. Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, From Fool’s Blindfold to the Veil of Ignorance, Yale Law Report, Winter 2011, pp. 14-15: "Covered eyes once had negative connotations. A blindfolded and bent figure, Synagoga, representing the Old Testament, denoted that Judaism was blind to the light of Christianity. Ecclesia, the New Testament, was ramrod straight and clear-eyed." In addition, "Lady Justice’s familiar blindfold did not become an accessory until well into the 17th century. And even then it was uncommon because of the profoundly negative connotations blindfolds carried for medieval and Renaissance audiences, who viewed them as emblems not of impartiality but of deception [...]. Sight was the desired state, Professors Resnik and Curtis write, connected to insight, light and the rays of God’s sun" (Randy Kennedy, Yale Law Professors Fix their Eyes on Blind Lady Justice: That Lady With the Scales Poses for Her Portraits, The New York Times, 15 December 2010).

"Christianity embraced "sol justitiae"--Christ--as the god of Light, who will appear ablaze when he will judge mankind. Medieval Europe saw depictions of the Virtue Charity holding a torch to denote the light of God" (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 64).

"Like many other symbols, blindfolds were demostrably polysemic, which is to say that their import changed over time and place" (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 62).

"what today we call a blindfold, [...] in earlier centuries was sometimes termed a 'bandage'" (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 62).

Not always the blindfold was intended to be read unambiguously. See, for instance, Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 62.

"for Medieval and Renaissance audiences, the blindfold was laden with negative connotations". Ibid.

"in the context of the dominant pre-humanist tradition[, ...] the blindfolded signified a disability". Ibid., p. 63

"The idea that sightlessness is problematic, and sometimes unequivocally bad, can be found throughout the [ancient Western] cultures and literatures [...]. Such imagery is predicated on classical and biblical texts that repeatedly cast light as representing light and darkness as misguidedness. The parallel was that the sighted were informed and the blind limited. As either fact or metaphor, blindness signified a variety of deficits. Blindness is not the equivalent of the willful act of being blindfolded. Yet, the rare mentions in biblical texts of blindfolded persons make it plain that they were disadvanteged.{16} [...] To be struck blind was [...] a form of punishment imposed by God.{18} [... W]hen humans punish each other, they sometimes put blindfolds on their victims.{19} [...] Metaphorically, blindness exemplified ignorance or abandonment [...] and impared judgment"{22} (Ibid., p. 64).

p. 428
{16} In some English versions [of the biblical texts] reference is made to "bandaged" or "veiled" eyes. In several Ripa editions the terms "blindfold" and "bandaged" are used interchangeably. However, the word bandages is today associated with wounds, while a blindfold is presumed to be obstricting vision.
{18} Job 18:20 - "Blindness will fall on the wicked."
{19} Jesus himself was made sport of--blindfolded, beaten, and mocked (Mark 16:65; Luke 22:63-64).

Isaiah proclaims, "The prophets should be the eyes of the people, but God has blindfolded them" (Isaiah 29:34 in The Goods News Bible with Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha, Today's English Version, New York: American Bible Society, 1976; the term was translated in earlier versions as "hath he covered;" Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, pp. 65 and p. 428, n. 34).

"biblical lessons became fixtures in Medieval and Renaissance literature and art, which reiterated that bandaged, covered, or blindfolded eyes--as well as those who were physically blind--signified profound limitations." (Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 65).

More generally, the physically blind were portrayed as objects of pity in need of charity. Alternatively, by the Middle Ages, blind personifications were sometimes 'endowed with terrifying power'"{39} (Ibid., p. 65).

p. 428
{39} Moshe Barasch, Blindness: The History of a Mental Image in Western Thought, New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 78

p. 65 - Resnik and Curtis, Representing Justice, p. 65, excerpt from chap. 4: "On Eyes and Ostriches"

Synagoga: Blind to the "Light" of Christianity
Two female figures--Synagoga and Ecclesia--and the iconography and literature that surrounded them inscribed blindness as liability. Synagoga, 'a purely Christian creation', was deployed to signify the Old Testament and, sometimes, Jews in general.{42} Ecclesia stood for the New Testament and, at times, Christianity. These two were familiar fixtures in Medieval Europe, to be found 'on ivory tablets, in stained-glass windows, on church implements, in manuscript miniatures, and in monumental statuary'.{43}

[Such pairs can be found at Strasbourg, Rheims, Bordeaux, Paris, Bamberg, Magdeburg, Worms, Lincoln, Salisbury, and Canterbury.]

The variation in depictions of Synagoga reflect the complexity of relations between Christianity and Judaism. Because the Old Testament is an important source for New Testament traditions, some versions of Synagoga have a measure of dignity, acknowledging that the New Covenant built on as well as (from the vantage point of Christianity) rose above the Old Covenant. [... In some cases,] Synagoga is almost the same height as Ecclesia. But unlike that ramrod-straight, crowned, sharp-eyed, regal woman (the "bride of Christ"), Synagoga is a fallen queen, shown slumped with her rod broken and her eyes covered by a blindfold.{50} Their hierarchical relationship is plain.{51}
Among Synagoga's attributes, the blindfold was her 'principal motif,' demonstrating that she was blind to the "light" of Christianity.{{52}} Yet, the bandage around her eyes suggested that her fault could have been remedied. Synagoga was not blind but blindfolded--willfully obstinant, refusing (rather than unable) to comprehend the "light of redemption."{{53}} Other versions of synagogue were more aggressively hostile, reflecting antagonism toward Jews and the spread of anti-Semitism.{{54}} In those iterations is not only blindfolded but also made to look demonic--shown with a serpent wrapped around her head, on a donkey, holding a goat's head (denoting lust) or disheveled [...].

p. 428
{42}. Michael Camille, The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art, Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge UP, 1991, p. 178.
{43}. Wolfgang S. Seiferth, Synagogue and Church in the Middle Ages: Two Symbols in Art and Literature, New York: Frederick Ungar, 1970, p. 96. See also Margaret Schauch, "The Allegory of Church and Synagogue," Speculum 14, 1939, 449. Beginning some time in the early Middle Ages, both the "New Law" and the "Old Law" were depicted through female figures, but they did not frequently appear paired in an apparent confrontation until some time in the eleventh century (Ruth Mellinkoff, "Three Mysterious Ladies Unmasked," Jewish Art 14-15, Jerusalem: Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University, 1984, p. 10).
p. 429
{50}. Seiferth, Synagogue and Church in the Middle Ages, p. 32. Synagoga is "the antithesis of the Church. While Ecclesia's luxuriant robe provides stability, Synagoga's diaphanous drapery falls in a tangle around her ankles" (Nina Rowe, "Idealization and Subjection at the South Portal of Strasbourg Cathedral," in Beyond the Yellow Badge: Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Medieval an Early Modern Visual Culture, ed. M.B. Merback, Leiden: Brill, 2008, p. 180).
{51}. Rowe put the imagery in the context of the era in which "keeping the Jews in their place was a central component of keeping order more generally" (Idealization and Subjection, p. 182).
{52}. Seiferth, p. 29. For example, Giotto showed Synagoga turning her head left toward darkness and away from the "light that is Christ in the Gospel of John" (Laurine Mack Bongiorno, "The theme of the old and New Law in the Arena Chapel," Art Bulletin 11, 1968, 13-14). According to Moshe Barasch, in the thirteenth century, Albert the Great mandated a description that added the blindfold in lieu of shaded or otherwise obscured or darkened eyes (Barasch Blindness, p. 86). {58} For the more literate, "bibles moralisées" also displayed images of Synagoga, blinded to Christianity´s light. See Katherine H. Tachau, "God's Compass and Vana Curiositas: Scientific Study in the Old French Bible Moralisée," Art Bulletin 7, 1998, pp. 12-19.
{53}. Barasch, Blindness, pp. 79, 83.

p. 429, n. 52. The Prado collection [...] includes an [...] example of Synagoga shown as a man. In the 1430 painting The Fountain of Grace and The Triumph of the Church over the Synagogue [...], on the bottom, are a group identified as Jews, who, with unkempt clothing and in distress, are contrasted with the well-dressed, calm assembly of the Church on the opposite side. Among the Jews is one man--Synagoga--shown bent over, blindfolded, and wearing a large pointed hat. The cluster of "defeated Jews" resembles those in other such renditions. See Josua Bruyn, "A Puzzling Picture at Oberlin: The Fountain of Life," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 5, 1958, 7.

Judith Resnik and Dennis Edward Curtis, [http://documents.law.yale.edu/representing-justice">Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms], New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011, [https://books.google.com.ar/books?id=yzD1z7i8Md4C&lpg=PA429&ots=ppgTjrNfOe&dq=fountain%20grace&pg=PA429#v=onepage&q&f=true p. 429, n. 54].

4. Ecclesia and Synagoga were the names given to the symbolic personification in medieval Christian art of Christianity's triumph over Judaism. This early type of anti-Jewish propaganda, which first appeared in the 11th century, was common decoration in the sculptures, paintings and stained-glass windows of churches and cathedrals, and in the decorations and bindings of Bibles and prayer books.
A pair of female statues decorated many Gothic cathedrals and churches (usually outside the building) in Europe, especially in France, England and Germany. Ecclesia, representing the victorious, triumphant Church, takes the form of a proud, erect maiden, crowned and holding the cross. Synagoga, symbolizing the defeated Synagogue, is blindfolded (symbolizing the blindfold her blindness to the truth of the New Testament) and dejected, and her characteristic appurtenances are a broken staff, broken tablets of the Law (symbolizing the Old Testament), and a fallen crown.
The best known statues of this type are on the exterior of the cathedrals of Strasbourg and Bamberg. They are also found in Rheims, Paris and Bordeaux. In England, they figure (generally in mutilated condition) in churches in Rochester, Lincoln, Salisbury and Winchester.
Ill. Synagoga statue which stood in front of the Liebrauen Church, Trier, Germany (built c.1250); it presently stands in the Bischoefliches Museum in Trier. Synagoga is blindfolded, holds a broken staff and overturned tablets, and her crown is fallen. Statues at the church of St. Severin, Bordeaux, 1264. While Ecclesia stands erect and crowned, Synagoga is blindfolded (a serpent covering her eyes), and the fallen crown lies at her feet (Jewish Heritage Online Magazine: Ecclesia, Synagoga and the Fallen Crown).
5. Jonathan Durrant, Shifting Perspectives, University of South Wales, July 2011.
6. The two female figures on the south portal of the Strasbourg Cathedral allegorically represent Christianity and Judaism. In Medieval iconography they were usually shown as engaged in a dispute in which Synagoga, the personification of Judaism, was the inferior and was shown vanquished. Most unusually, however, the figures at Strasbourg turn toward each other and toward the central figure of the double portal, Solomon. Thus the conflict is reinterpreted and given a conciliatory outcome.
The figure of Ecclesia, standing almost stiffly upright, wears a crown. The cross and chalice are replacements, but these attributes seem insignificant compared with the figure's majestic appearance. She turns to speak her final words to Synagoga, while the latter, already turning toward her opponent, will maintain her attitude of rejection only for a few moments more. She still holds the broken staff and the Tablets of the Law, and turns away, blindfolded, because she has not yet recognized the revelation of Jesus Christ (Emil Krén and Daniel Marx: Web Gallery of Art).


Greg Killian remarks on the term Synagogue.

Ms. Typ 120, four of six leaves known to be extant,

Missal, Noyon, c. 1240-1250. Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ms. Typ 120. A folio illustrates the Canon (the prayer of consecration said at every Mass and usually the most elaborately decorated portion of an illuminated Missal). In addition to a large ornamental initial for the Preface, a second historiated initial shows the paired figures of Ecclesia and Synagoga flanking the Agnus dei, the Lamb of God. Synagogue, representing the Jews, is blindfolded, unable to see the "truth" of Christian revelation. Ecclesia captures the blood of the sacrificial lamb in her chalice, both mirroring and modeling the activity of the priest at the altar (Books in Books).

• Bute Master, Initial N: God Removing Synagoga's Blindfold, Bute Psalter, Northeastern France, 1270-80. Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment. Getty, Ms 46, fol 104v. Ref. Bute Psalter. Probably made for a noblewoman in the late 1200s, the Bute Psalter is a small prayer book containing all 150 psalms. A number of other additional texts illuminated by an anonymous Parisian painter were added in the mid-1300s. The manuscript's name derives from that of a previous owner, the Marquess of Bute.
A talented and important artist, known as the Bute Master for his work in this book, created the illuminations for the portion of the manuscript dating from the 1200s. He painted 190 historiated initials and numerous marginal drolleries. Instead of giving precedence to the eight major divisions of the psalms as was customary, he devoted a figural scene to every psalm. Furthermore, the illuminations display distinctive, original iconography that may reflect the patron's wishes.

• Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.


Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law, September-December 2011.

The shifting attributes of Justice reflect the complex relationships between judgment, sight, knowledge, and wisdom. In the 1400s and 1500s, a blindfold on Justice signified her disability; today the blindfold is commonly understood as a sign of justice’s impartiality (i.e., a sign of law’s particular obligation to reason within confined parameters and of justice’s impartiality and disinterest).

The Fool Blindfolding Justice is a woodcut from Sebastian Brant’s Stultifera navis mortalium (Ship of Fools, Basel, 1497), sometimes attributed to Albrecht Dürer. The 1509 London edition offers a scene known to be one of the earliest known to show a Justice with covered eyes. The deployment is derisive, evident not only from the fool but from the chapter that the illustration accompanied, which was entitled “Quarreling and Going to Court.” Brant, a noted lawyer and law professor, prefaced the book with a warning against “folly, blindness, error, and stupidity of all stations and kinds of men.” The 1572 version is all the more insistently negative; in this rendition, the fool has pushed Justice off her throne as he covers her eyes.

Addendum 1. De litigantibus in iudicio (Of conflicts in trial), woodcut, c. 1568-72. A fool blindfolding a seated figure of Justice; illustration to a Latin edition of Sebastian Brant's 'Ship of Fools', probably that printed by Petri in Basel in 1572. London, British Museum, E,7.332

The Tribunal of Fools. “The Fool Blindfolding Justice” was not the only image of that era deploying a blindfold as a warning against judicial error, as can be seen from the 1508 edition of an illustrated volume, Die Bambergische Halsgerichtsordnung. The volume, setting forth the criminal law and municipal ordinances of the city of Bamberg, included some twenty woodcuts.
In the woodcut called “The Tribunal of Fools,” a presiding judge (marked by his rod of office, the collar of his robe, and his place of honor on the throne) sits with his four colleagues. All are blindfolded and wear jesters’ caps. The legend on the scroll above their heads reads: “Out of bad habit these blind fools spend their lives passing judgments contrary to what is right.” Once again blindness is equated with error. Blindfolds could also be found on other readily recognized Renaissance icons — Synagoga, representing the Old Testament, was bent and blindfolded (blind to the “light” of Christianity), while Ecclesia, standing ramrod straight and clear-eyed, embodied the New Testament. Similarly, Fortuna, and Eros were also shown blindfolded, exemplifying that the loss of sight leads one astray.

Ripa’s Iconologia. Two codifiers of Renaissance iconography, Cesare Ripa and Andrea Alciati, generated compendia of icons and emblems, replayed by didactic invocations in art and literature, in politics and theology, and in popular pastimes from tarot cards to the satirical press. Through these multiple forms, a host of Virtues and Vices became part of the common visual vocabulary in Europe.
Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia marks the beginning of a shift in the meaning attributed to the blindfold. First published, without any pictures, in Rome in 1593, it was printed with images in 1603 and regularly thereafter, appearing in more than forty editions in eight languages.
Ripa detailed various kinds of Justice, each with her own set of attributes. One was Divine Justice (“Giustitia Divina”) and the other six were variations on “Worldly” Justice. All were clear-sighted but one, and sight itself was specifically admired in the descriptions of various Justices. For example, Ripa’s “Justice According to Aulus Gellius” — from the Padua Ripa of 1625 — is said to have “piercing eyes”.
The sole version Ripa described as blindfolded was called Justice (or sometimes Earthly Justice). As a 1611 edition explained: "This is the type of Justice that is exercised in the Tribunal of judges and secular executors. She is wearing white because judges should be without the stain of personal interest or of any other passion that might pervert Justice, and this is also why her eyes are bandaged — and thus she cannot see anything that might cause her to judge in a manner that is against reason." Thus, the blindfold is a marker of the obligation that Justice not be tempted away from using reason.
Where might Ripa have gotten the blindfold? One possible source is Andrea Alciati’s 1531 treatise, Emblemata, an anthology of moralizing epigrams to which his publisher added illustrations, was reproduced in some 150 editions. One of the “emblems” (a term he coined) is titled “The good Prince in his Council.” The central figure is wearing a bandage obscuring his eyes, and his colleagues lack hands. Both Ripa and Alciati likely knew the “Egyptian” allegory “transmitted by Plutarch and Diodorus Sicilus in which the chief justice was shown eyeless in order to illustrate his impartiality, while his colleagues had no hands with which to take bribes.”

Addendum 2. Karl Ferdinand Hommel, De iure arlequinizante : Oratijo in Academia Lipsiensi cvm ivris vtrivsqve doctorem inavgvraret habita, Lübeck, 1761.

Representing Justice. By mapping the remarkable run of the icon of Justice, a woman with scales and sword, and by tracing the development of public spaces dedicated to justice—courthouses—the authors explore the evolution of adjudication into its modern form as well as the intimate relationship between the courts and democracy.

Chapter Four: Of Eyes and Ostriches

"Although the blindfold has come to be valorized, it was once seen—as cartoonists often use it today — to denote a disabled Justice, blind to or hiding from the truth."

Blind to the Light and Blindfolded by the Fool
The Blindfolded Justice in the Amsterdam Tribunal
"Open the eyes that are blind"
Synagoga: Blind to the "Light" of Christianity
Justice and Judges as Fools
Alciatus's Theban Judges and Ripa's Injunctions: "A Steely Gaze," the Eye of the God, and Bandaged Eyes.

Additional Resources
• Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church replaced Israel?, B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
• Nina Rowe, The Jew, The Cathedral, and Medieval City, Cambridge UP, Apr 4, 2011.
• Pamela Ann Patton, Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain, Penn State Press, 2012, chap. 3: "Shaping the Jewish Body in Medieval Iberia".
• Sara Lipton, Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2014 (AM).
• Sara Lipton, The Invention of the Jewish Nose, The New York Review of Books, 14 November 2014.


Shabbat ha-Shabbatot

Börries von Münchhausen + Ephraim M. Lilien
"Der Sabbath der Sabbathe"
Berlin, 1900

Der Sabbath der Sabbathe.

Sei still Judäa und schweige, du Tochter des Sem!
Höre, was dir sage:
Es nahet der Tag der Tage
Nach Streben und Sterben und Streit,
Nach Lieben und Lehren und Leid
Nahet die Ernte der Saat:
Der Sabbath der Sabbathe naht!

Sei still Judäa und schweige, du Tochter des Sem!
Hänge dein Hoffen ans Später,
Traue dem Gotte der Väter:
Aus Zeiten voll Schande und Spott
Führt dich dein heiliger Gott
Mit unerforschlichem Rat!
Der Sabbath der Sabbathe naht!

Shabbat of Shabbats

Still and silent be Judea, daughter of Shem.
Listen to what you say:
Approaching is the day of days,
After efforts and death and strife,
After loving and learning and suffering,
Drawing near to the grain harvest:
The shabbat of shabbats approaches.

Still and silent be Judea, daughter of Shem.
To hang your hope on later times,
Trust the God of your fathers:
From times of shame and ridicule
Leads you your Holy God,
With impenetrable resolution:
The shabbat of shabbats approaches.

El sábado de los sábados

Calma y silenciosa sea Judea, hija de Sem.
Escuche lo que dice:
Se aproxima el día de los días,
Tras esfuerzos y muerte y lucha,
Tras amor y aprendizaje y sufrimiento,
Arrimándose a la cosecha del cereal:
El sábado de los sábados se aproxima.

Calma y silenciosa sea Judea, hija de Sem.
Para preservar su esperanza en tiempo próximo,
Confíe en el Dios de sus padres:
De tiempos de vergüenza y ridículo
Le conduce su Santo Dios,
Con resolución impenetrable:
El sábado de los sábados se aproxima.

O sábado dos sábados

Calma e tranquila seja a Judéia, filha de Sem.
Ouça o que diz:
Aproximando-se está o dia dos dias,
Após esforços e morte e luta,
Depois amar e aprender e sofrir,
Perto da colheita da safra:
O sábado dos sábados se aproxima.

Calma e tranquila seja a Judéia, filha de Sem.
Para preservar a sua esperança nos próximos tempos,
Confie no Deus de seus pais;
Desde tempos de vergonha e ridículo
Leva-lhe o seu Santo Deus,
com resolução impenetrável:
O sábado dos sábados se aproxima.


Ref. Gedicht - Poem - Poema. Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar; it is also referred to as "Shabbat Ha'Shabbatot" (the Sabbath of the Sabbaths).


« Strasbourg »

Extrait d'un poème de P. Claudel; via Théâme

Paul Claudel (1868-1955), « Strasbourg », poème, 1913 (Corona benignitatis anni dei, 1915). Dans une conférence de 1915, son auteur précisait à propos de ce poème : « Il fut écrit à la suite d’un voyage que je fis en 1913 dans cette ville infortunée et se trouve tout imprégné du grand sentiment de tristesse que j’en avais rapporté. Sous l’image des statues célèbres, « la Synagogue et l’Eglise » qui ornent le portail du Sud, j’ai voulu opposer à la conseillère des nostalgies et des regrets inutiles la personnification du courage lucide qui se mesure avec le devoir immédiat et présent.»

Les deux portes méridionales de la cathédrale de Strasbourg, c. 1230



Dangereuse Nymphe d’autrefois ! ah, qu’on lui bande les yeux,

Qu’on l’attache fortement à la porte du Saint-Lieu,

Comme cette figure sur le porche latéral qu’on appelle la Synagogue ! [1]

Ah, qu’on lui rompe son long dard pour notre perte analogue

A l’aiguillon même de la mort dont l’Apôtre nous a parlé,

La grande femme folle et vague avec son visage de fée,

Plus vaine que l’eau qui fuit, plus que le Rhin flexueuse,

Elle ne laisse point tomber son arme tortueuse,

Et montre, les yeux bandés, sa charte où il n’y a rien écrit.

Mais de l’autre côté de la Porte est debout avec mépris,

Sans relâche la tenant sous ses yeux froids qui sont faits pour voir,

L’Eglise sans aucuns rêves qui ne pense qu’à son devoir,

L’Eglise qui est appuyée sur la croix et non ce jonc illusoire,

Héritière des jours passés, forte maîtresse d’aujourd’hui :

Et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui.[5]


Moins tu nous laisses d’avenir, plus le passé fut cruel,

Plus grande en nous la douceur amère des choses réelles !

1. « L’une, me dit-on, est l’Eglise, l’autre la Synagogue, mais pourquoi ne me serait-il pas permis de voir en l’une la Foi et dans l’autre l’Imagination ? » (P. Claudel, L’Œil écoute, chapitre consacré à la cathédrale de Strasbourg).
2. Claudel a déjà traduit littéralement dans le même recueil ce passage de l’hymne Pange lingua : « Le rite nouveau succède à l’antique document ».

Un grand merci à Théâme ("La cathédrale de Strasbourg dans deux poèmes français du XXe siècle", 20.5.2014).

Voir aussi: Évangile et Liberté


Regina Silveira

por Mariano Akerman

Oriunda de Porto Alegre y habiendo estudiado en el Instituto de Cultura Hispánica en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de Madrid en 1967, Regina Silveira es una importante artista emergente del hemisferio sur.

Silveira es conocida por la producción de un tipo arte que cuestiona las convenciones de la representación y que involucra comentarios a través del uso de la paradoja visual.

En To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle) considera hechos, lugares y peculiaridades de Latino-América.

Regina Silveira, To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle), recortes fotografiados e impresos sobre vinil montado sobre mousse, 1997. Cada pieza: 48.5 X 39.5 cm.

El trabajo de Silveira fue presentado en el Centro Cultural Recoleta (Buenos Aires, Arte de Las Américas: El Ojo del Milenio, 1999; referencia) y en la 8ª Bienal del Mercosur (Puerto Alegre, 2011).

Se trata de un gran rompecabezas que tiene como referente a la realidad latinoamericana. Acerca del mismo hace algún tiempo se escribió: "La obra To be continued (Latin American Puzzle) de la brasileña Regina Silveira llama mucho la atención porque representa al continente en un rompecabezas que, lejísimos de construir una imagen bonita, construye la imagen del caos a base de eventos y personajes muy propios de cada país; y cada pieza, de cada imagen, de cada país es fundamental para unir a las demás piezas de un rompecabezas infinito que crece y crea nuestro continente" (La cultura de América Latina en una muestra en París, 3.4.2014).

Personalmente, tengo mis serias dudas de que cada una de las piezas de To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle) sea realmente fundamental e irreemplazables. No dudo que algunas posiblemente posean considerable importancia, pero, como veremos más adelante, no todas las piezas creadas por Silveira son de hecho imprescindibles para que ella articule su comentario visualmente.

La naturaleza propia del trabajo y el hecho que el mismo se titule "To Be Continued" (A ser continuado) dan entender que el rompecabezas latinoamericano se encuentra en construcción, que su armado aún no concluyó. Ello es perfectamente aplicable al estado actual de unión entre los latinoamericanos.

Formado por numerosas piezas que interactuan estando ya posicionadas en el orden apropiado, todo rompecabezas suele formar una todalidad unificada y consonate. No es ese el caso configurado por Silveira, donde si cada parte del rompecabezas se encuentra forma parte del todo articulado, pero sin que su contenido llegue a interactuar con las demás partes que forman el todo o de modo tal de generar una imagen de conjunto funcional y significativamente unificada.

El Rompecabezas latinoamericano presenta no uno sino múltiples aspectos, que son además políticos, socio-económicos, culturales y religiosos: monocromos ellos todos.

Cada una de las piezas del rompecabezas exhibe una figura icónica o imagen característica de alguno de los mencionados aspectos latinoamericanos. Las piezas indudablemente son todas representativas de la geografía, historia y cultura latinoamericanas.

Si bien configurda como una pieza a ser empleada en un rompecabezas, cada una de las imágenes elegidas por Silveira constituye de por sí una unidad autocontenida y autosuficiente, de modo tal que su unión con cualquier otra pieza del rompecabezas no puede sino ser meramente formal, dado que las piezas en cuestión son a veces compatibles en términos de forma, mas no logran generar ningún todo significativamente coherente (una vez que el rompecabezas se articula).

La relación entre las piezas es por consiguiente algo superficial: se unen, sí; pero sólo por su formato y temática general. Al considerarse la unión de todas las piezas que forman el Rompecabezas latinoamericano, dicha unión resulta ser débil y arbitraria. Porque cada pieza, por así decirlo, habla su propia lengua. Una lengua por pieza y sólo una. La resultante puede ser comparable con lo generado por los altaneros constructores de la Torre de Babel, cuyas lenguas Dios intencionalmente cambió con el fin de crear una enorme confusión entre ellos. En efecto, la Biblia explica que el fruto de su competitivo trabajo no fue otro que un orden caótico: algo que nunca llegó a estar ni siquiera cerca del Creador.

Similar es lo configurado por Silveira, quien a través de su obra insinúa claramente que, en el contexto latinoamericano, cada uno habla su propia lengua, o sea, puja por que aquello que le es propio sea escuchado e incluso prevalezca. Pero eso no significa que las otras partes comprendan el mensaje emitido por cualquiera de sus vecinas. Es ello lo que da lugar a dos inquietantes cuestiones: por un lado, y considerando el mismísimo título de la obra, el Rompecabezas latinoamericano no está aún acabado; por el otro, todo aquello que hasta ahora sí ha sido realizado resulta ser problemático y ello se da a partir del hecho de que las piezas no logran trabajar en conjuntamente para formar un todo coherente, sino que, dada su propia naturaleza (que es autocontenida y autosuficiente), sólo pueden llegar a hacerlo de un modo siempre cuestionable y poco satisfactorio.

Alguna vez Silveira ha dicho que su Rompecabezas involucra imágenes estereotipadas de Latinoamérica y, debido a ello, la obra trataría el punto de vista de un extranjero. Si bien el trabajo de Silveira se titula "A ser continuado...", no queda claro qué es lo que debería continuarse: ¿los preconceptos del gringo o la educación del mismo?

El montaje de Rompecabezas, como su autora oportunamente ha explicado, conduce inevitablemente a "narrativas abiertas y caóticas que mezclan diferentes geografías, épocas y culturas". Se trata entonces de "una obra (diría casi turística) que revela la precaria mirada del 'otro' extranjero, que apenas conoce, cuando mucho, estereotipos de nuestra cultura y 'paisajes'" (Silveira, citada por José Roca, en Guía de la 8ª Bienal Mercosur, "Geopoéticas", p. 62: "Regina Silveira"; versión online del ejemplar español, slide 32; versión portuguesa online, p. 62; 8 Bienal do Mercosul: Ensaios de geopoética, 2011, p. 248).

Dado que la obra de Silveira es multivalente, existen varias lecturas posibles. El Rompecabezas latinoamericano podría reflejar no pocos clichés que los latinoamericanos mismos identifican como propios.

La composición de Silveira no es siempre presentada del mismo modo, sino que la posición de las diferentes piezas varía en cada exhibición (es decir, el "rompecabezas ... nunca es armado de la misma manera. Cada nuevo montaje ... dará lugar a una nueva lectura de la historia"; Nathalie Kantt, Un paseo latino en París, La Nación, 24.1.2014). El conjunto presentado por Silveira es algo así como un registro enciclopédico bastante aleatorio. Mas es la artista quien ha escogido la imagen que lleva cada pieza y quien además articula, desarticula y rearticula el Rompecabezas una y otra vez.

A veces emplea 130 piezas, otras sólo 110.

Es decir, más allá de todo azar, la intervención de Silveira, y no aquella de ningún gringo, resulta crucial en las variadas configuraciones que el Rompecabezas latinoamericano pueda llegar a presentar. La selección de imágenes y su disposición en el todo articulado constituyen por lo tanto un asunto personal.

Según Silveira, la integración latinoamericana actual es estar juntos pero sin llegar a establecer ningún compromiso sustancial. El Rompecabezas latinoamericano es deliberadamente anti-gestálico: aquí el todo no es más que la suma de las partes. De hecho es menos. Y, en definitiva, acaso poco importe el contenido de cada pieza, ya que existen piezas literalmente negras que pueden verse articulando el rompecabezas pero sin otorgarle contenido ninguno al mismo. Son áreas que fueron censuradas o acaso hayan "desaparecido".

Sea como fuere, todas las partes que forman el Rompecabezas latinoamericano se hallan en condición de agregado. Debido a ello, en el trabajo en cuestión el todo integrado no es más que algo aparente. Conciente de ello o no, Silveira expresa que la integración latinoamericana es meramente epidérmica y que lo poco que sí ya ha sido construido, a pesar de presentar proporciones considerables, posee a su vez una cohesión no mayor que aquella de la bíblica Torre del Desencuentro, en Babel.

Dado que el título de la obra es originalmente expresado en lengua anglosajona, posible es suponer que, como sugiere Silveira, algún gringo, siguiendo sus propios preconceptos ante la realidad latinoamericana, haya sido el responsable de tamaña articulación. Mas es la brasilera autora de este trabajo quien concibió ella misma cada una de las piezas del Rompecabezas latinoamericano como autocontenida y autosuficiente, un extranjero no. Expresar algo en inglés, por otra parte, no implica automáticmente que quien se expresa o se haya expresado deba necesariamente ser anglosajón: existen latinoamericanos que comprenden dicha lengua e incluso pueden expresarse recurriendo a ella.

Más que una manifestación prejuiciosa de un extranjero acerca de Latinoamérica, diríase que el Rompecabezas latinoamericano es antetodo la autoexpresión de Silveira, quien lúdicamente articula, desarticula y rearticula el asunto latinoamericano, intentando una y otra vez algunas de sus combinaciones posibles en un trabajo original y que tiende a constituir una importante nube asociativa.

Silveira intervém sobre fotografias com recortes, diagramações e reticulações. A apropriação de imagens fotográficas é um procedimento constante em sua obra e que lhe acrescenta uma dimensão semântica. Realiza fotomontagens impressas em off-set e concebidas como simulacros de cartões-postais turísticos.
A poética de Silveira parece duvidar dos códigos de representação preestabelecidos e cristalizados. Uma referência importante para seu trabalho é a obra de Meret Oppenheim, que lhe permite, de forma irônica, reinventar esses códigos a fim de retirar deles novas possibilidades de significação.

Regina Silveira, In Absentia (Meret Oppenheim), 1993

Meret Oppenheim, Object (Breakfast in Fur), 1936

Regina Silveira, To Be Continued...(Latin American Puzzle), 1997. Detalhe. Cada peça: 48.5 X 39.5 cm.

O trabalho de Regina Silveira para a Bienal do Mercosul é um imenso quebra-cabeça de 130 peças, cujo encaixe das peças não gera uma figura única, mas uma grande colagem de imagens do imaginário latino-americano. Apesar de se encaixarem perfeitamente, nunca conseguem armar uma imagem global correta ou completa. Cada peça exibe uma imagem com a fotografia de um ícone ou referência gráfica do continente. A composição é heterogênea e tem também imagens estereotípicas de América Latina: Che Guevara, os monumentos eqüestres dos precursores da Independência, Carlos Gardel, a Virgem de Guadalupe, os mariachis, as igrejas coloniais, as guerrilhas revolucionárias, as culturas indígenas pré-colombinas, os animais andinos, as frutas tropicais, Carmem Miranda, os militarismos... Trabalhando na obra a questão da linguagem e do significante, Silveira leva sua composição visual, em sua totalidade, transgredir os padrões normais de um quebra-cabeças. Dessa forma agrega novas referências às imagens. To be continued... (Latin American Puzzle) [Quebra-cabeça latino-americano, para ser continuado] é uma obra que consegue mostrar como a diversidade cultural latino-americana, apesar de uma grande multiplicidade de referências, consegue unir as peças e formar um conjunto, mas sem criar uma autêntica unidade: as narrativas de diferentes épocas casam-se aleatoriamente. A obra pode revelar o olhar precário de quem conhece apenas estereótipos da nossa cultura e paisagens. Cada pessoa pode fazer suas próprias e novas associações e leitura.

To be continued... (Latin American Puzzle), 1997

"A montagem do quebra-cabeça compõe inevitavelmente narrativas abertas e caóticas que misturam diferentes geografías, épocas e culturas. Uma obra (quase diría 'turística') que revela o olhar precário do 'outro' estrangeiro, que conhece apenas, quando muito, estereótipos de nossa cultura e 'paisagens'" (Regina Silveira, 8 Bienal do Mercosul: Ensaios de geopoética, 2011, p. 248).

Programa Vesalius
Programa-Estímulo Vesalius 2015
Vesalius: Anatomia da Arte
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...