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(p.44) Chapter Two Spectator-Spectacle
A Feast for the Eyes
Christina Normore
University of Chicago Press

This chapter reconsiders the role of the audience in the production of late medieval art. Returning repeatedly to an extended reading of the entremet of the Holy Church at the Feast of the Pheasant (1454), the chapter charts three basic forms of relationship between humans and banquets. The first, mimetic acting, is shown to embody notions of mimesis as a device for conveying truth. The second, audience participation, included a range of means by which audiences were themselves made visible for other guests. The third, the medieval star system, asserted the power of high-ranking participants as figures uniquely able to bridge the gap between the fictive and real worlds, yet also opened these individuals up to scrutiny. In contrast to modern models of spectacle, carnival, and relational art, medieval banquets often sought the active participation by their viewers, yet such involvement was rarely a purely liberating experience.

Keywords:   spectator, spectacle, audience, carnival, participatory art, mimesis, star, Feast of the Pheasant

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