As the foremost prominent sites of liminality and transition of a cathedral or monastery, portals are potent, performative, and monumental locales of collective memory as they prompt dynamic interaction with viewers. The gothic doorways of Moutiers-Saint-Jean, Notre Dame, and Reims embody what Pierre Nora deems “lieux de mémoire,” where residual memories are archived, emotion-filled, and even manipulated by a royal audience. The forging of past, present, and future personages is realized through the use of “guising” in each of these portals, wherein a number of individuals are simultaneously embodied in singular sculptural figures. In the portal of the Benedictine abbey of Moutiers-Saint-Jean, idealized biblical, Merovingian, and Capetian kings are sculpturally confounded as a means of gaining royal support, through sculptural flattery, from royal viewers. The Porte Rouge of Notre-Dame conversely evokes strained royal-ecclesiastical relations of the time between Louis IX and the Church’s Canons. Similarly, Reims Cathedral’s Last Judgment portal conveys the church-controlled notions of kingship through the implication of present-day royal viewers in the depiction of their protracted rewards and punishments. In this presentation, I aim to situate each of these portals as embodiments of memento mori, lieu de mémoire, and performative works that sculpturally implicate specific royal viewers.
|Keywords:||Arts and Audience, Collective Memory|
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