TitleDoors, Screens, and Stalls: Liminal Spaces in the Medieval Church
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 09.00-10.30
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairClaire Kilgore, Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Paper 514-a Medieval Church Portals Playing as an Ambiguous Border between Sacred and Profane Spaces
(Language: English)
Hee Sook Lee-Niinioja, Independent Scholar, Helsinki
Index Terms: Architecture - Religious; Art History - Sculpture
Paper 514-b The Subjects of Misericordia as the Borders on the Rhineland in the Late Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Anna Bartuli, Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Historische Urbanistik, Technische Universität Berlin
Index Terms: Art History - Sculpture; Liturgy; Religious Life
Paper 514-c The Hidden and the Revealed: A Theological Reading of the Gothic Choir Screen
(Language: English)
Macie Sweet, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Index Terms: Architecture - Religious; Ecclesiastical History; Theology
AbstractPaper -a:
The consecrated church was a material structure in the unredeemed world, the body of Christ, the community of the faithful, and the heavenly Jerusalem. Its portals bordered sacred-profane spaces, creating multifaceted meaningful messages. Besides the apocalyptic visions of God and the representation of the Last Judgement, secular and ecclesiastical legal business occurred under the statue of king-judge Solomon. It was also a place: (1) the Water Court over irrigation water (2) seeking asylum (3) signing contracts including weddings (4) trade agreements and (5) public rites of the sinner's repentance. My paper discusses medieval church portals as an ambiguous border space.

Paper -b:
In the late Middle Ages, the Rhineland was a unique world - this region consisted of ecclesiastical lands, free cities, and duchies within the Holy Roman Empire. The monasteries on this land had significant autonomy and maintained friendly contact with each other in any possible way. Even the most unusual and inconspicuous (closed from the eyes of the laity) object of the church - misericordia - can confirm my words. Misericordia is a small-sized relief on the underside of the seats for the clergy.

The separation of the Rhine monasteries from the rest is symbolically indicated by choice of subjects for decorating the interior space of churches. The monasteries-allies (friends) chose the same subjects, and the works of art are made in a stylistically close manner. In this research, I want to observe the subjects on three seats for clergy - in St Martin in Emmerich am Rhein, St Mary's Birth in Kempen, and St Martin in Nettersheim. Choir stalls were made in the late 15th century. All images on misericordias in the mentioned churches can be divided into groups according to the subjects - for example, a literature group or a group of folklore (proverbs). However, the most surprising thing is that these churches depict allegorical images of the Four Elements women. Thus, the clergy marked a symbolic border passing through their monsters. In my abstract, I will try to find all subjects chosen for carving on the seats and find others stylistically close to the listed ensembles of misericordia.

Paper -c:
As a type of architectural wall or divide, can the Gothic choir screen, a feature arising in the late-medieval cathedral, be viewed as anything more than a means of separation and exclusion between the priest and laity? This paper examines the choir screen, analysing the examples at Naumberg and Chartres in particular, to demonstrate how these screens are both illustrations of prevailing theological norms as well as an agent in their evolution and formation as sites of mediation and revelation. Rather than the perhaps facile notion of the screen as merely divisive, this paper illustrates how the choir screen provides a site of contemplation of the visio dei that is unique to the laity.