George Pattison

Guest Lecture

Presence and Power: Reflections on the Politics and Theology of Icons


In my paper I shall consider several historical examples of how icons have been used to express and reinforce the identity of particular socio-political groups. This is often exemplified in the context of armed conflict, such as the Russian army at Borodino or the Novgorodians defending their city from the Suzdalians. This leads on to a broader reflection on the relationship between representation and presence/power in iconography. I argue that to the extent that the logic of the icon is determined by a dynamic of presence/power, the differentiation between a religious or spiritual interpretation, and a political use or misuse is both necessary and difficult. This distinction in turn relates to fundamental issues in the relationship between church and society that the paper will highlight and briefly explore.


October 15, 2020
15.30 (Vienna) | 9.30 am (NYC) | 4.30 pm (Moscow) | 9.30 pm (Singapore)
online via Zoom

See program of the Eighth Graduate Workshop for other interesting talks.