12-13 Warren Woodfin of Queens College will be speaking on matters of the Byzantine
Icons in Motion: Embroidered Images through the Lens of Liturgical Mystagogy
Friday, Dec 13th
History Lounge Dissertation Room
According to the Late Byzantine theologian Symeon of Thessaloniki (c. 1381-1429), the liturgy carried out in heaven differs from that of the church on earth only by being done “without veils.” By a paradox, it is in the Late Byzantine period that veils–and, by extension, vestments–proliferated and began bearing elaborate embroidered iconography. The sacramental nature of the liturgy lies chiefly, of course, in the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, but in the Orthodox understanding, the entirety of the liturgy sanctifies the worshipers through their participation in a mimetic and anamnetic reenactment of salvation history. The decoration of liturgical vestments with figural embroideries enhances both dimensions of the liturgy, emphasizing on the one hand its relationship with the eternal worship of God in heaven and, on the other, the treatment of the liturgy as a reenactment of the life of Christ.
Warren Woodfin’s research focuses on the art and archaeology of Byzantium and its cultural sphere in the eleventh through fifteenth centuries. For the past several years, he has been collaborating with a research team of U.S. and Ukraine based scholars to study a medieval burial complex in the Black Sea steppe. Prior to joining the faculty at Queens College, Woodfin held teaching and research posts at Duke, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, the Metropolitan Museum, and, most recently, a European Research Council-sponsored fellowship at the University of Zurich.