A Dynamic Bipoloarity: The Royal Holloway Chapel Project, Scenography and Art History

Crawley, Greer and O'Neill, Harriet (2020) A Dynamic Bipoloarity: The Royal Holloway Chapel Project, Scenography and Art History. In: Scenography and Art History. Performance Design and Visual Culture. Bloomsbury. (Submitted)

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The term “scenography” is being increasingly employed to describe temporary and permanent presentations in museum, gallery and heritage spaces. In this paper, we will consider how the adoption of a deliberately scenographic approach in a museum, gallery or historic site can reveal new connections. We will explore how meaning is made and co-produced, and demonstrate the potential of using scenographic methods to bring together creative productions from different temporal periods and spatial contexts. Our examples will include the immersive installation in Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome, Bill Viola’s Ocean without a shore and The Holy See Pavilion Vatican Chapels, that are in dialogue with the sacred and secular spaces in which they are shown. We will show how scenographic projects can open up (and bridge) a gap between art and architectural history in real, physical space. To demonstrate these ideas in practice further, we will discuss a scenographic experiment that used art historical research to underpin and inform a design methodology. In the 200 years since its completion in 1886, Royal Holloway’s chapel has attracted curiously little scholarly attention. The lacunae in our knowledge regarding this architecturally and theologically important space can be attributed to both incomplete documentation and the inherent puzzles within. Amongst its most perplexing aspects are the eight empty, shallow niches with saint’s names above them which punctuate the nave. Why do they remain empty and how would their contents have engaged with the rest of the chapel? Our paper would show how this art historical problem was partly addressed by Drama students specialising in scenography were asked to produce proposals to fill these niches. The combination of archival research, secondary reading on art and sacred space and the practical research needed to design their scenographic solutions bought new understandings of the performative aspects of the space and possible interpretations of the puzzling iconography to the fore.

Item Type: Book Section
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2020 08:09
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2020 07:18
URI: https://bnu.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17986

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