Iconophobia, literally the fear of religious images, usually occurs in proportion to the powers attributed to them by their believers. In the worst cases, these fears have led to, or coincide with, a cycle of violence that may involve the actual destruction of images (iconoclasm) and of human life. Semiotics helps interpret the interconnectedness of these seemingly separate events. Most iconoclasm involves confusion between the image or sign (such as a statue) and its referent (the actual subject), and a re-encoding (...) of the signified (the meanings assigned to the sign). This article explores four case studies. In the aftermath of iconoclasm, fragments and ruins can be trans-valued as relics, and thus inspire hatred of the perpetrator and sympathy for the group whose sacred precincts have been violated. Or, broken statues may be preserved by a re-encoding as `art'. Yet not only do historical models warn of recurring conditions in which violence may be perpetrated against people and objects, but the more recent examples indicate that even great works of art that capitalist society deems world treasures cannot be taken out of the currency of iconoclastic exchange. (shrink)
This contribution to feminist studies provides a new decoding of the imagery in the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux. I propose layered readings, registering a modern woman's critical perceptions, informed by knowledge of the historical context, to reconstruct the impression these images might have made on the original female owner.