The Lost Mirror. Jews and "Conversos" in the Middle Ages
Feb 23, 2024 - May 26, 2024
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Every image created is a mirror that reflects a way of viewing. Let us look at the world and the others in relation to ourselves, through our mentality and attitude. Through a wide selection of works, this exhibition regains a medieval mirror: the portrait of Jews and converts conceived by Christians in Spain between 1285 and 1492. During this time, images played a fundamental role in the complex relationship between these three groups. If, on the one hand, they were an important means of transferring rites and artistic models between Christians and Jews, while at the same time creating a space for collaboration between artists from both communities, on the other, as shadow reverses, they helped spread the growing anti-Judaism that nested in Christian society. In this area, the visual stigmatisation of Jews was a faithful reflection of the Christian mirror, of their beliefs and anxieties, and with it a powerful instrument of identifiable affirmation. After the massive conversion of Jews to Christianity following the pogroms of 1391, cult images were at the centre of the controversy, becoming the test for affirming the sincerity of the new Christians or, conversely, for accusing them of judaizing them. The extent of these unfounded suspicions of Jewish heresy lies at the foundation of the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. Aware of the power of images, the new institution made intensive use of these, either to design powerful scenographs or to define formulae for the visual identification of converts. Images from this exhibition remind us that, while the difference exists, the alterity is built.
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Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - MNAC, Barcelona
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