Art Histories Seminar
Di 13 Mai 2014 | 14:00–18:00

Theotokos: Space, Economy and the Operational Icon in Sao Paolo, Brazil

Maria José de Abreu (Art Histories Fellow 2013/14)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Santuário Thetokos, Mãe de Deus, São Paolo.
Santuário Thetokos, Mãe de Deus, São Paolo.

In light of a theological genealogy of the term economy, this presentation sets out to explore the practical and analytical components of the notion of oikonomia from which both the term icon (eikon) and oikos (the administration of the home) evolve. Referring to the construction underway of a sanctuary dedicated to Theotokos (Mother of God) in urban Sao Paolo, the argument develops by exposing the ways in which, more than a referential homage, the sanctuary itself incorporates, by means of its operations, the internal economy of the icon after whom it is named.

Presented to its thousands of visitors and donors as an “ongoing construction” (uma obra em andamento), I explore the material historiography of this gerund, or ongoingness, as the economy of the maternal body. I will show how the transition from a plastic space to a territory could be carried out and how Theotokos provides the doctrinal matrix -or apparatus- for the governance of a huge architectonic enterprise. A series of links will be established between Byzantine iconography and contemporary conceptions of the image in neoliberal Brazil.

Maria José de Abreu is a cultural anthropologist and works at the University of Amsterdam as well as at the Amsterdam University College. She will be affiliated to the ICI Berlin within the project Errans in 2014 to 2016.

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