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Interruptions and Transitions: Essays on the Senses in Medieval and Early Modern Visual Culture is an anthology of the most recent works by Barbara Baert, discussing the connection between the experiences of the senses in the medieval and early modern visual culture, the hermeneutics of imagery, and the limits and possibilities of contemporary Art Sciences.
The six chapters include Pentecost, Noli me tangere, the woman with an issue of blood, the Johannesschüssel, the dancing Salome, and the role of the wind.
The reader is shown a medieval and early modern visual culture as a history of artistic solutions, as the fascinating approach between biblical texts, plastic imagination, and the art-scientific métier. This makes him a privileged guest in a unique in-between space where humans and their artistic expression can meet existentially.
In: Illuminating the Middle Ages
In: Between Jerusalem and Europe


My chapter will treats the possibility of expressing the divine artistically in the theme of the quattrocento Annunciation on the basis of three methodological starting points. The first regards the idea of the “interspace.” When a text is translated into an image, a third parameter is activated. Elsewhere, I refer to it as the iconic “space between.” As soon as a biblical passage is translated into art, another dimension opens up that transforms the word into a sensual world where other laws concerning truth, reality and imagination hold sway. The second topic regards the Metabild or “the self-aware image.” The Annunciation is more than just the iconography of a biblical passage, for it thematizes and comments on the beginning of the figurative process as something that flows forth from the principle of incarnation—the becoming flesh, and thus the “becoming-image” of Christ himself. In short, the Annunciation is about the unnamable secret of the visual. This brings me to the third subject of this paper: the “now-time.” The Annunciation touches on a startling double paradox. The Incarnation continues to escape us due to its visible invisibility, but also installs this mystery of the image in a split second, in a breach in time, as in T.S. Eliot’s “the unattended / Moment, the moment in and out of time” (“The Dry Salvages,” Four Quartets, lines 31–32). This is the kairos or the “occasion time”: the interval between moments that holds potential. In the now they turn into “pregnant moments.”

In: Mary, Mother of God
During the Middle Ages, the head of St John the Baptist was widely venerated. According to the biblical text, John was beheaded at the order of Herod’s stepdaughter, who is traditionally given the name Salome. His head was later found in Jerusalem. Legends concerning the discovery of this relic form the basis of an iconographic type in which the head of St John the Baptist is represented as an “object.” The phenomenon of the Johannesschüssel is the subject of this essay. Little is known about how exactly these objects functioned. How are we to understand this fascination with horror, death and decapitation? What phantasms does the artifact channel?
The present study offers the unique key to the Johannesschüssel as artifact, phenomenon, phantasm and medium.
In: Disembodied Heads in Medieval and Early Modern Culture
In: The Figure of the Nymph in Early Modern Culture
In: Between Jerusalem and Europe