Artibus et Historiae no. 48 (XXIV)2003, ISSN 0391-9064
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MOSHE BARASCH - "Elevatio". The Depiction of a Ritual Gesture
Several strands of observation and reflection meet in the gesture of raising a sacred object, the paten, in the Mass. The lifting up of something, or somebody, is frequently seen in the art of different periods, in both religious and secular imagery.
Elevation touches on some ideas, or rather intuitive meanings, of our experience of space. While some aspects of our perception of space, mainly in visual experience, have attracted a great deal of scholarly attention (it is enough to think of the study of perspective in painting), the concern with
the expressive nature of space as such, and its layers or "places," has been much more limited.
The present essay does not, however, deal with the expressive character of space in general but it confines itself to the limits of the precise motif of "elevatio", the raising of a sacred object and bringing it to the upper layers in our field of vision. Examples are taken from representations of "sacred actions", that is, of religious rituals, but occasionally the author also resorts to examples of political iconography.