Sunday, 28 September 2008

But back to linguistic challenges. 36 hours after arriving in Zadar I found myself en route to a Croatian History of Art conference in Orebić, a town at the end of a peninsula opposite the town of Korčula. Now, in the olde dayes, Venice controlled Korčula and the Republic of Ragusa, modern day Dubrovnik, was in charge of Orebić. So a bit like Yanks and Soviets in Berlin during the Cold War (except with decidedly better weather and views) these two mercantile superpowers of the Adriatic used to peer at each other across the water. I shall soon attach pictures of the Franciscan monastery from where Dubrovnik used to do their peering and the towers of Korčula where Venetians would peer back with equal intensity. Stalemate was thus happily maintained for centuries.
And now to reel myself back in from this tangent back to the Croatian History of Art Conference in Orebić. Wow. Three days of intense discussion about the role of the patron in Croatian art. Difficult to cope with in my own mother tongue but all the more mind-boggling in Croatian. I just want to thank God and his heavenly pantheon of saints, apostles, cherubim, seraphim and big band that there were pictures. Lots of pictures. This is one of the delights of art history, visual stimuli in the best academic sense. To be honest if anyone attempted a paper without images there would be a riot of epic proportions and if that had happened in Orebić, I would have been the first to throw a Molotov cocktail. Fortunately, this never eventuated so I quietly sat through paper upon paper of what I am sure was terribly interesting stuff, absorbing relevant vocab and images like a ‘flu-infested sponge (yes, dear reader, it was still lurking). At one point heated debate ensued between two scholars about the architect behind the main city gate of Trogir

whereupon I found myself trapped in the row between, similar to a ball boy with stage fright caught between Nadal and Federer amidst ace after ace at the Wimbledon final. In situations like these, the best thing is to make oneself as small as possible and exude a sense of intense diplomatic politeness. It is also a useful strategy in deflecting attention about one’s academic reason for being. “Why Dalmatia?” the Croatian art historians ask me. “Why not something in your own country? I hear Coventry was very nice before it got bombed to smithereens in WWII.” In response, I attach a photograph and a link. The photo is of the Franciscan church on Hvar and the link has a particularly lovely photo of Coventry city centre. Why Dalmatia, indeed...

1 comment:

Seren said...

My dear Zoe, we are truly blessed with your foray into the world of the technocrats. Keep up the amusing ramblings my dear. They shall be on my RSS list!