The ‘material turn’ in art history opened new avenues for research with fresh approaches that shift our attention from considering an object as a static thing in an absolute state to putting more emphasis on the process of making and its use and reuse. A chipped area in a miniature painting is no longer an unfortunate loss but a site of excavation for information about material conditions of production and use, while unfinished surface in a stone sculpture provides a laboratory to explore artisans’ hands at work. This symposium brings together scholars whose research embraces methodological interventions and theoretical implications of art history’s material turn in the field of South Asian art and architecture, mostly focusing on the period between 500 CE and 1500CE. Thematically organized, papers demonstrate how attending to thingness and the process of making helps reveal hitherto invisible connections across time and space. Going beyond the rubric of material agency, papers also explore the importance of considering somatic intelligence and ritual technology that developed to activate power and sacrality of objects and buildings in Indic religious contexts. Further consideration of ritual knowledge helps situate the trace of time left in matter through artistic mediations in historical and experiential contexts.
Symposium organizer: Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art & Architecture, Harvard University
Keynote Speaker: Vidya Dehejia, Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art, Columbia University