At ART (Aesthetics Research Torino) Philosophical Seminar

Our PI Jenny Ponzo is giving a lecture at ART (Aesthetics Research Torino) Philosophical Seminar on the topic “The accessibility of the sacred body in Catholic art and culture”. The event will take place at the University of Turin (Palazzo Nuovo, Room 14) and online (link and PW: MXp34Sqsuk9), on 20 April, h. 16. (YouTube video available here)

Abstract of the speech

In many artworks produced in the framework of Catholic culture, the inside and the outside of the body of sacred characters are organized in a series of concentric levels, and different iconographic themes make some of the inner levels more or less visible and perceivable, according to strategies which vary through time and in relation to the represent subject. For instance, in the iconography of the Virgin of Mercy the observant actant’s gaze can penetrate underneath the sacred character’s cloak; in the case of colossuses such as the statue of Saint Charles Borromeo (Arona), the visitor can access the inside and even reach the eyes, thus metaphorically taking on the saint’s own point of view; while many martyrological themes show with strong realism the interior parts of the martyrs’ tortured bodies (e.g. the iconography of Saint Bartholomew flayed). The study of a wide range of artworks and devotional objects provides the grounds for a reflection about the main semiotic issues surrounding the strategies regulating the visibility of the sacred body in the Catholic culture, and their evolution from the Middle Ages to our days.

What is NeMoSanctI?


NeMoSanctI is a research project carried out at the University of Turin. It studies how models of sanctity have changed after the Second Vatican Council. To this end, it applies a pioneering methodology based on semiotic theory to a wide corpus of normative, judicial, and narrative texts.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 757314).