Chôra and the Creation of Sacred Space in Byzantine Architecture

North dome, c. 1316–1321, inner narthex, Chora church, Constantinople (Istanbul). Photo: Jelena Bogdanović 

Date: Mar 30, 2023 Time: 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Location: Zoom Address: ,

Jelena Bogdanović, Vanderbilt University, explores the creation of sacred space and religious architecture in the late antique and Byzantine Mediterranean.

Can we talk about Byzantine architecture beyond buildings? What is at stake?
This presentation engages with the scholarly opportunities for theoretical considerations of sacred architecture in light of Byzantine intellectual and creative practices. Primarily focusing on principles of architectural design, sacred space is highlighted here not as an abstract category nor as a specific sacred place or location but rather as a combination of the two. As such, sacred space points to a historical and evocative locale and associated events; yet it remains inseparable from its essential qualities. By revisiting the architectural design of Byzantine churches, this talk will demonstrate the meaningful relations between created sacred space and the faithful, between physical objects in space, and the significance of non-material aspects of built structures in communicating the vitality of architectural form as a kind of participatory icon of space. Especially important is the philosophically and architecturally suggestive concept of chôra (χώρα) and its cognate hypodochē (υποδοχή), originally introduced by Plato in his instrumental text Timaeus. This presentation will analyze the relevance of chôra and hypodochē for understanding the modes of creation of sacred space and religious architecture in the late antique and Byzantine Mediterranean.

This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link. Registration opens March 2, 2023.

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