The contributors to this honorary issue of Tahiti all have a professional affiliation with Professor Lars Berggren – either as co-workers, collaborators in research projects, contributors to publications he has edited, members of networks and societies which he has coordinated, or as doctoral candidates. The articles are written in English, Danish or Swedish, but have all been provided with an abstract in English.
The Editor of the issue is Adjunct Professor Marie-Sofie Lundström, who currently acts as head of the Art History and Visual Studies section at Åbo Akademi University. In her editorial, Lundström describes Berggren’s career and research interests, and explains the theme of this issue: “The Meaning and Use of Images”. Lundström stresses that this theme should be understood in a broad and interdisciplinary sense, and that the variety of topics and disciplines in this publication is a reflection of Berggren’s wide interests and international orientation.
In his article “Spiritualia sub metaphoris corporalium? Description in the Visual Arts”, Professor Götz Pochat approaches some recurring problems of meaning and interpretation in philosophy and art history. Pochat advocates a hermeneutic theory informed by cognitive science, and explains the meaning of the term Cognitive Frame when applied to iconography and visual analysis. Professor Eva Rystedt analyses a number of carved images from Republican and Imperial times in Rome in her article “Mellan rummet och rörelsen. Om avfärdsmotivet i bildframställningar av den romerska apoteosen” (Between space and movement. On the motif of departure in images of Roman apotheosis). According to Rystedt’s analysis, these images of the apotheosis – the staged transformation of a dead ruler or hero into a god – are representative not only of certain places and moments, but also of a cultural and mental geography which dominated Roman belief and society. Thus, Rystedt’s article has a close connection to the cognitive approach described by Pochat. Professor Ingrid D. Rowland’s article “Echoes of Egypt in 12th-century Bologna and 13th-century Rome” describes the background and possible theological implications of the reappearance of Egyptian motifs in Romanesque Italian art, with examples taken from the cloisters of Santo Stefano in Bologna and San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome. Rowland also poses the question of what meaning these ancient motifs could have represented for such artisans/architects as the members of the Vassalletto family of stone carvers in Rome.
In the articles by Adjunct Professor Søren Kaspersen and Cand. Phil. Morten Stige, the Bestiary and its importance for Romanesque iconography is a central topic. In his article “Jyske fonte med modstillede løver. Et præliminært studie” (Baptismal fonts from Jutland with confronted lions, a preliminary study), Søren Kaspersen studies a selection of the large number of preserved baptismal fonts from the Romanesque period in Eastern Jutland. Kaspersen stresses that the lion motifs on these objects must not be seen as empty ornaments and that their meaning must be interpreted in relation to their use in Liturgy and their original placement in the church. Regarding the contradictory role of the Lion in the Bible and in exegesis, Kaspersen argues that most facts support its interpretation as a symbol of the forces of good in the context of fonts. Morten Stige draws similar conclusions inhis article “The lion in Romanesque art, meaning or decoration?”, but uses a geographically more diverse set of examples. According to Stige, at least twelve different roles of the Lion could be identified in written sources and established pictorial traditions, of which nine are unambiguously positive.
Adjunct Professor Renja Suominen-Kokkonen investigates the development of Art History as a discipline in Finland and the national significance of Finnish wooden architecture in her article “Studies of wooden churches in Finland: Josef Strzygowski and Lars Petterson”. With Strzygowski, the first professor of Art History at Åbo Akademi, architectural masterpieces such as the 18th-century church in Petäjävesi got their late recognition. However, Strzygowski’s hypotheses about the origins and reasons for this architecture remained controversial. Professor Eeva Maija Viljo studies the history of a number of 18th and 19th-century master builders in her article “Tempelbygge for lutheraner i sydöstra Finland” (Constructing temples for Lutherans in the Southeast of Finland). Shifting focus from the churches of Ostrobothnia and Central Finland to those of the contested Southeast and Carelian areas, Viljo also stresses the importance of Social History for understanding why the local builders could operate in relative independence from the central administration. The two articles following Viljo’s will again bring the Reader back to Italian culture – more specifically to Rome in the 19th century, which is an important topic in Berggren’s own research.
Professor Nils Erik Villstrand’s article is entitled “Konstnären i möte med stadsskrivaren i 1800-talets Rom. En studie av förmedlare mellan muntligt och skriftligt utgående från två konstverk” (A meeting between an artist and a public scribe in 19th century Rome. A study of a mediator between oral and literate tradition from the viewpoint of two art works). Villstrand here focuses on the Danish painter Ernst Meyer and what his paintings and drawings can tell us about the social role of the public scribe in a society in which most people were still illiterate. With the case of Meyer as an example, Villstrand also stresses how a historian can use the image as a source of information and not merely as an illustration. Professor Robin B. Williams has written the article “Popularizing Roma Capitale: Representations of a Royal Rome in the Pages of L’Illustrazione Italiana in the late 19th century”, in which in a similar vein he uses images from the popular Italian periodical. William’s aim, however, is to study how the illustrated press contributed to form the public “image” of the risorgimento and of Rome as the Italian capital.
Adjunct Professor Fred Andersson explains some modern applications of the ancient science of Rhetorics in his article “Mellan norm och avvikelse i synlig kultur – piktoral, plastisk och ikono-plastisk retorik i bilder och mönster” (Between norm and deviation in visual culture –pictorial, plastic and icono-plastic rhetoric in images and patterns). Providing a number of examples of rhetorical manipulation of images in contemporary visual culture, Andersson’s article aims at a wider application of the visual rhetorics proposed by the Belgian Groupe µ. Mia Åkerfelt PhD focuses on a specific aspect of visual culture in Finland in her article “Från slott till koja – Arkitektur i Arabias väggtallrikar under 1900-talet” (From castles to cottages – Architecture in 20th century collector plates by Arabia). With architectural and anthropological theory as her frame of reference, Åkerfelt studies how Finnish urban environments and prominent buildings were used in these mass produced items. She shows that the development of the motifs reflects changes in the conception of Finnish national identity during the 20th century, as well as an increasing appreciation of vernacular architecture.
The Kolumn (column), a standing feature in Tahiti, is written by Adjunct Professor Kari Kotkavaara. Here he reflects upon everything that is “outsagt” (unspoken) in a highly nationalistic inscription in Åbo from 1942, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first book written in Finnish. In the section Från fältet & arkiven (From the research field and the archives), three of Lars Berggren’s current doctoral candidates share experiences in connection with their projects. Mikael Andersson describes how Gabriele d’Annunzio and his friend, the Norwegian born sculptor and utopist Hendrik Christian Andersen, both built their homes as private monuments for their ideas. Minna Hamrin tells about the sometimes troublesome communication between Academia and Church in her story about a research trip to the cloister of Santa Scholastica in Subiaco. Sofia Aittomaa investigates the history of an empty pedestal in Paris – this presents a parallel to Aittomaa’s research about the changing fates of Finnish public monuments. Finally, this issue also contains a book review. It is written by the Swedish architectural critic Bianca Heymowska and comments Rem Koolhaas’ recent apology for preservation in his book Preservation is overtaking us.