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Workshop: Center/Pieces. De- and Recentering the Belvedere Torso

Apr 25, 2024 - Apr 26, 2024

Organised by Anna Degler (Freie Universität Berlin/EXC 2020) and Katherine Harloe (School of Advanced Study, University of London), Research Area 2: "Travelling Matters".

This two-day workshop is held as a cooperation between the ECX 2020 project “The Travelling Torso” by Anna Degler and Prof. Katherine Harloe, director of the Institute of Classical Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London). It is dedicated to the post-antique reception of one of the most canonized and well-known antique sculptures within ‘Western’ culture, the so-called Belvedere Torso which is kept in the Vatican Museums in Rome. Not only has this larger-than-life marble sculpture been the centerpiece of a classical canon, it has at the same time always only been known in its fragmentary state, as a powerful body in pieces.
Discussing scholarly, artistic and curatorial engagement with this centerpiece of classical Greco- Roman antiquity allows for a deeper insight into complex temporal, normative and political reference systems that are constitutive of classical receptions. The workshop will focus on the relation of body politics and classical sculpture over the five centuries since the Torso entered the European art historical canon in order to explore the entanglements of these engagements with ideals of freedom, humanity, and gender, racial and ableist discourses.
Following the research agenda of EXC 2020, the Belvedere Torso-reception serves as one paradigmatic case study of intermediary literary and artistic practices. The workshop will discuss how its reception within art, literature, scholarship and museums produced or reproduced a variety of (political) temporalities and a set of norms. We wish to examine collection displays, the history of copies in plaster casts and other media, the Torso’s material transformations and the many literary and artistic suggestions of its completion, as well as comparing its reception with that of other famous antique sculptures (such as Laocoon, Venus of Milo).
The event is conceived as a critical re-evaluation at the interface of different disciplines and their respective views on classical reception like classical studies, literature studies, contemporary storytelling, art history, archaeology as well as performance studies. The two-day workshop invites international and local guest speakers from those fields to engage in short impulse talks, discussions and visits of artworks in Berlin’s museum collections. Identifying and differentiating the manifold temporalities and asynchronies that motivate, complicate and constitute reception processes will form the basis of the workshop.
Given the Belvedere Torso’s central position in ‘Western’ canons up until today, the workshop aims at de- and possibly recentering the Torso by self-critically exploring antiquity reception and canonization as a powerful practice. The workshop hereby raises the question how those practices actively shape temporal communities.

Further information on the programme will follow shortly.

Time & Location

Apr 25, 2024 - Apr 26, 2024

Freie Universität Berlin
EXC 2020 "Temporal Communities"
Room 00.05
Otto-von-Simson-Straße 15
14195 Berlin
Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik
Freie Universität Berlin
Schloßstraße 69b
14059 Berlin-Charlottenburg

Further Information

Please register with: anna.degler@fu-berlin.de