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PCSNY–April 2020 Lecture
April 17, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Metonymy in Mesoamerican Art
Assistant Professor of Visual Culture of the Ancient Americas
University of Illinois at Chicago
Late Classic Maya Codex-style plate from the Mirador Basin, northern Petén (Guatemala) or southern Campeche (Mexico), ca. 680–750 CE. Ceramic with slip, diam. 12 5/8 in (32 cm). Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1993.565. Photograph by Justin Kerr, K1892.
In ancient Mesoamerica, images often directly responded to the forms, materials, or functions of their supports, or otherwise implicated their physical and social situatedness. In pointing to their contexts, such images can be understood as indexical according to the system of signs developed by Charles Sanders Peirce, but the close relationship between an image and its material conditions can also be classified as metonymical. Metonymy refers to expressions of contiguity or association; it is an additive form of expression, arising from adjacency in the same way that meaning is created grammatically through the combination of sequential terms in a phrase. In the elaboration of existing grounds with imagery deemed appropriate to them—and especially in the construction of teixiptla as embodiments of numinous forces—Mesoamerican artists regularly pursued an additive, associative practice of image making. This talk will argue that metonymy was more than a particularly favored representational trope in Mesoamerica, and that its consistent deployment can be directly linked to the ontology of images within an indigenous worldview.
Friday, April 17, 2020
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street
Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room