“To See and To Be Seen”. Gaze, Desire and Body in the Christian ‘Dramatic’
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This paper aims to analyse how, from the second to the fifth centuries AD, Christian thought redefined the dynamics of the human gaze through a dramatic device that put forward a profound argument about the individual’s identity in the context of their relationship with other individuals. Through the writings of the Church Fathers set against the spectacular system of the ancient world – especially as expressed, for example, by Tertullian and Augustine – this paper will highlight how the unity of the Christian “dramatic” has proposed a revolution in sight, which implies not only a new way of seeing oneself and the other but also a new order of desire, and especially of action. At the centre of this revolution is the body of the God-Man on the cross: that specific exposed body transforms the idea of “to see and to be seen”, a concept that no longer represents a game of appearances and images but real relationships between and among human beings, thus offering the contemporary debate on visual culture an innovative, original interpretation of the meaning of performativity of vision.
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