A question about legal iconography

Can you give an example of ICONOCLASM linked to the idea of law and/or justice?

22 thoughts on “A question about legal iconography


    The term “iconoclasm” was originally used to go against various religious movements and convictions.
    Generally it deals with some kind of organized, ideologically reasoned destruction and disposal of images or symbols in general. It has been practiced both geographically and temporally. Nowadays we meet it in various forms in a lot of cultures.
    Contemporary iconoclasm shows itself in three fundamental fields: religion, science, and modern art.
    In the 20th century, religious and politically motivated iconoclasm appeared especially in China (during the Cultural Revolution) and in the Soviet Union (in connection with the liquidation of religion and the lifestyle of the past).
    In 1931 the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow was demolished for propaganda reasons. The intention was to build a giant Palace of the Soviets, but this never happened. Instead, in the 1990 it was built a replica of the original church, which was opened in 2000 as a symbolic refutation of Soviet society’s war on religion and the return of Russia to the spiritual values of Christianity.
    In the last two decades, iconoclasm has been manifested in Eastern Europe (the fall of the communist regimes), and in Asia (the suppression of Tibetan culture, the destruction of non Islamic monuments in Afghanistan).
    In the 20th century, iconoclasm did not take a violent form: it was based on the modern belief that the world could be changed according to need.
    The key event of the transformation of Eastern Europe- the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989- had the nature of a collective iconoclastic ritual. The destruction of the Wall symbolically illustrated the social changes: the fall of the socialist regimes and the setting up of new alliances in a Europe which had divided into two enemy camps.
    So many years after the fall of the Wall, its symbolic potential is far from exhausted; it has been preserved as a historical monument and even restored.


  2. Ginevra Guacci says:

    In the last lessons we talked about the connection between iconoclasm and moments of constitution. Searching on the internet I indeed found that many moments of iconoclasm are linked to a political moviment of reformation and regeneration.

    Yet in the roman period there was something similar to iconoclasm called “damnatio memoriae”. It was a complete removal of all the traces, be them images, statues, quotes or even the intere memory, of a well-known figure, most of the times in the political field, like emperors. Not only did the damnatio memoriae aim to go beyond the policy inspired by the emperor but it was also a more biting sign. It meant that they had to be forgotten.

    In the modern era this behavior turned into iconoclasm. We made some examples with Professor Huygebaert, such as the famous Byzantine Empire and the French Revolution. There are also two more examples I wanted to show.

    First of all, during the American Revolutionary War, the Sons of Liberty, who were members of a secret society, razed the golden statue of the king of the United Kingdom, George III. Moreover, after they liquefied it, they used the melt gold to obtain bullets for their weapons.

    Another example may be the Russian October Revolution in 1917. The revolutionaries destroyed many statues depicting the old Tsars and the imperial Eagle, which was the emblem of the Tsarist regime. Since they were as much against the monarchy as against the Orthodox Church, they destroyed both churches and cathedrals that were considered the symbol of a rich and corrupted Church.

    After both the American Revolution and the October Revolution the protagonists wrote a ne Constitution and, in the case of America, it is still in force now.


  3. Jéssica Costa says:

    Iconoclasm, in a broad definition, refers to the destruction of an icon or well-stablished and widely recognisable image. In the field of Law and Justice, it relates to the renewal of a social agreement, directly linked the the creation of constitutional moments. These constitutional moments, according to the studies of Bruce Ackerman, are times of higher law making with massive participation of the people. As a result of this general consensus, these iconoclastic moments are given legitimacy.

    Ackerman recognizes 3 constitutional moments in the history of the United States. First, the writing of the Constitution, ratified in 1788; second, the period after the Civil War and, finally, Roosevelt’s New Deal, during the Depression.

    Nevertheless, starting with Cristianity, many iconoclastic moments related to Law and Justice can be identified all over the world. We can mention the Glorious Revolution in the United Kingdom, responsible for stablishing Parliamentarism and the documentation of the Bill of Rights of 1689. It can also serve as an example the destruction of the Berlin Wall, in more recent years, that later provided Germany’s reunification, as well as the South African General Election of 1994, that ended with the Apartheid period, and the events of the Arab Springtowards democratization and the overthrowning of the previous regimes.


  4. Michela Zala says:

    The image of Justice, easily recognizable, is identified with the period of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In the painting “Justice and Prudence”, Cornelis Matays (1538), are represented two figures: One is Justice, the other is looking in a mirror and she is identified as Prudence.
    In the Medieval and Renaissance imagery, Justice was never alone, but she was one of the four Cardinal virtues (Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance and Justice). This picture was often combined in paintings by the three theological virtues Faith, Hope and Charity.

    The source of the image of Justice can be found in goddesses both Greek and Roman, from Themis and Dike to Iustitia.
    The iconographical trail continues through the image of the archangel St. Michael, often shown with a sword to fight the dragon Satan.

    The visual accessibility of Justice stands in contrast to the relative inscrutability of other Renaissance images.

    The image and the idea of Justice has changed over the centuries, together with Governments, which connect to this representation laws and try to convey their thoughts about justice and judgments. For this reason, as the Professor Huygebaert had explain well, this image is often used as political propaganda.


  5. Giorgia Castelli says:

    Iconoclasm is a therm used to denote the practice of destroying icons or monuments for religious or political reasons.
    In the Roman period there was the ‘’damnatio memoriae’’ which consisted in destroying every image or statue linked to a person that was considered an enemy for the Roman Institutions. This practice of deleting the memory of a person was used also against some emperors, for example Nerone and Caligola. It represented the punishment of the maximum power of the society that governed in an unjust way.
    Nowadays we are witnesses of some episodes of iconoclasm, in fact in the last few years the Islamic states attacked and destroyed a great part of some archaeological site: both Nimrud that was an ancient Assyrian city, and some Roman ruins in Palmira. These episodes aren’t the only ones in which this hateful feelings against occidental world incite the Muslims fundamentalists.Their laws comes from their religious belief that encourages them to fight against the misbeliever. In the occidental wold law is separated from religion, it allows freedom of religion, speech and expression.
    Moreover destruction of ancient city provides for financing the Islamic State with the ancient reports sold.


  6. Alessandra D'Urso says:

    When we talk about Iconoclasm, we all know what we are referring to. We immediately think to that political-religious movement, developed in the VIII century against images and icons. What we probably don’t know is that one of the reasons why imperor Leone III took this decision was to avoid that Muslims could accuse Christians of idolatry. It’s on this relation between iconoclasm and Islam that I would like to focus my attention. Recently, as we said in class, we were shocked by the destruction of the site of Palmyra, but this was just the last of a long series of this kind of episodes. From the last Jenuary the Islamic State destroyed the byzantine mosaic of Raqqa, the Giona’s tomb and tha Mesopotamian statues in the museum of Mosul. At this point a question arises: why all this hate against art? We still don’t know exactly if it is due to ideological reasons (destroying art is a way to destroy the history and the identity of a people) or to economic reasons (to sell that monuments on the black-market) or to religious fanatism, but what is certain is that in these people, despite their barbarism, paradoxically, there is a deep comprehension of the role of art, of its educational value and its being expression of liberty. All this, of course, is conflicting with one of the most important principles of our legal culture, expressed by the 8th article of our Constitution: the equality and freedom of all religions for our law; but this is unacceptable for Muslims, bacause Islam for them is, at the same time, religion and State and in this absolutistic vision of the word there is no place for other religions and cultures.


  7. Rachele says:

    The term iconoclasm is generally used to indicate the destruction of icons, monuments or other images for religious or political motives.
    Yet in the ancient era we can find episodes of iconoclasm, especially for religious reasons. An example was in Egypt, when often the successors to the throne ordered the destruction of old pharaos statues because they were considered as gods.
    Examples of iconoclasm for political motives are in the modern and contemporary era.
    One of this is during the American Revolutionary War, when members of a secret society, who called themselves “sons of liberty”, destroyed the statue of King George III and then liquefied the remains to obtain bullets for their weapons.
    Or during the October Revolution, in 1917, the Russian revolutionaries destroyed a lot of old stars monuments and other symbols of tsarist regime. Also the Orthodox churchs and cathedrals were razed, because they were considered symbols of a rich and corrupted church.
    Another example of iconoclasm is during the fall of Sovietic Union, with the demolition of several statues of Lenin and Stalin.


  8. Clemens Daniel Pucher says:

    Iconoclasm – the destruction of symbols of every type like pictures, sculptures, statues, signs, monuments and many other tangible stuff was often linked in the history and also nowadays in parts of the world to the idea of justice. However in many cases the destruction of these things is not at all connected to justice. To destroy a tangible symbol of a culture or a religion or also of a state is every time a very delicate and in some cases also a dangerous practise. It is done to cut off the memory of a group and to show that someone is not going to accept this part of history or culture any more.

    For example the Taliban blow up the famous Buddha Statue of Bamyian. These Statues had been there since the 6 century. In former times many Buddhists settled in this valley. So Buddhism is part of the history of this location, in the 10th century this buddhistic culture was extinct, however the Statues remain there. This is a signal not only to the inhabitants of the valley, they showed the whole world, that they would not accept another religion or concept of freedom of religion and to confirm their wish in forgetting the intangible connection to the tangible figures they decided to destroy this fabulous examples of buddhistic art history of the 6 century. But this is not the only example on iconoclasm with in a religious context. Also in Europe churches got in the reformatory period rid off pictures and sculptures, in that case the religion changed but the places for praying remained the same ones, so there was the necessary of a changing and that worked best with the destruction of old symbols, the “Bildersturm” had an enormous result to the icons of the Lithuanian Christians and their icons. Today everybody who knows a few basic facts about religion is able to identify a catholic church and to distinguish it from another one.

    However the motives for iconoclasm are not always influenced by religion; there are other reasons too. For example the destruction of political symbols has also a high value in the collective brain of humankind. And there is also more than one way how politic systems deal with the heritage of older symbols, referring to another one. As an example: The coat of arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is still present in Austria. After the First World War the new Austrian government described itself as another State, they did not see their selves as a legal successor of the former State on this territory. However the symbols of this period remained, nobody dared to demolish them. So it seems that the new state is able to deal with that symbol. Maybe this symbol has lost its force for ever. But there is another symbol of the 20th century- it is connected to the darkest period of history. This symbol of a formation of a cross, this certain cross represents the death of millions; it is connected to injustice, to pogroms and to murder. This is an example of iconoclasm that offers somehow the chance to get rid of the dark heritage in Europe.

    So to conclude my thinking on this topic, the question on iconoclasm is always a delicate and difficult one; every case linked to this topic has a special story. One the one hand it is an example of cruelty and injustice, showing the destruction of a culture, a religion or a State, on the other hand like the example with the fascistic symbols it is a change to get rid of them, the icons always carry an intangible value with them, and in the last case this is a horrible one. In all of those cases the iconoclasm is connected to a legal system. The religious fights in the 16th century Europe were not wars to defend a certain religion, they were in a high percentage too wars to establish a legal system and had been connected to the question religious rights.


  9. Veronica Fortino says:

    I want to report some modern examples of Iconoclasm, in order to underline how this phenomenon – which has been characterized men since the ancient time, continues to exist as an intrinsic part of the society’s behaviours.
    – I begin with one of the most strong image’s destruction in recent times: Twin Towers’ attack; since they were considered the symbol of the western culture, the Al-Qaeda terroristic group, led by Osama Bin Laden, used them as a target to declare war to the western world.
    – In Italy, the “Scelba Law” (1952) forbid to express, in any form, Fascist symbols; as well in Germany an article of the criminal code bans to show – in public contests – the Nazi swastika. Both provisions have the aim to deny the replacement of those political ideologies embodied in the two dictatorships.
    – In Ukraine, since this last December, more than one hundred of Lenin’s statues have been destroyed by nationalist groups, supported by local authorities, to protest against Russian power. Indeed, at the time of the URSS’ hegemony, Ukraine, as well as the others subdued countries, promised to preserve those statues in return for the Russian army’s retreat. Hence, their destruction, in these past months, want to impose, not just a formal-political separation (the one which comes with the end of URSS), but also a substantial one.
    – Last year, the artist Saint Hoax published images of Disney princesses, with bruised and bloodied faces; this was made for an awareness campaign against domestic violence called “Why did he stop treating you like a princess?”. I think that it is a good way to talk about justice’s issues because it uses simple images, understandable by everyone, but with an incisive message.


  10. Giulia Loi says:

    When I thought to Iconoclasm, the first image that came to my mind was the Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa onto which Duchamp drew a beard and a mustache and in which added an inscription: L.H.O.O.Q.; it is in french, and it would symbolize her state of sexual excitement. Somehow, we have the destruction of one of the most famous images, that was always connected to purity and grace and that is very famous all over the world for her “enigmatic” smile. Usually, the purpose of iconoclasm is to break up and destroy the “sanctity” of something, both spiritually and materially. In this case instead, it is different. The destruction is used by Duchamp to honor Leonardo. He wanted to provoke and make fun of the superficial admires that appreciate Mona Lisa just because everybody says it is beautiful, without getting deeply to the meaning or the analysis. It is reaction against conformism and the superficial common taste of the people.
    I know that it is not a form of Iconoclasm directly connected to justice and law, but these classes are teaching me to broaden the horizons of a jurist, though other disciplines and it can be a good warning to demolish what is pre-conceived and it is an incentive to get to the truth, only with a personal and deep analysis.

    Another episode of iconoclasm can be found during the Nazi period. In the 1933 (May 10) was organized a big books’ stake in different german cities. (Probably it was the biggest planned fires, but of course it is not the first in fact, another example is the Inquisition; “La Congregazione dell’Indice” who compiled a list of banned and prohibited books that has to be destructed).
    During this stake, the Nazis burned all the books that were against the german ideology, such as for example the book of the jew Sigmund Freud. Usually Iconoclasm only affects images, something “external” that represents and symbolizes something else; here we books that of course are symbols but they also have directly in themselves the ideas; burning books, is an action of psychological violence, it is a symbol of annihilation of man and his knowledge, his freedom of thought, of his ideas.



    Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons or monuments, usually for religious or political motives. It is also a name given to the Christian “heresy” of the eighth and ninth centuries which caused a major controversy in the Eastern Roman Empire and provoked one of a series of schisms between Constantinople and Rome.
    People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who breaks or disdains established dogma or conventions. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are called “iconodules” or “iconophiles”—or sometimes “idolators” by their opponents.
    Iconoclasm may be carried out by people of one religion against the icons of another faith, as was the case with the early Israelite policy against Canaanite religion, as well as the Christian policy against the symbols of Roman paganism, and Muslim actions against both Christian and pagan images. However, iconoclasm is often the result of sectarian disputes between factions of the same religion.
    One of the most recent examples of iconoclasm could be this event.
    It was an unhappy coincidence that the same week Tate Britain opened its new exhibition ‘Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm’, a controversial act of iconoclasm was taking place in Newport in South Wales. The Chartist Mural, a much-loved mosaic in the city centre, was demolished by Newport council to make way for a £100 million shopping development. In the exhibition, Tate presents iconoclasm as largely a historical phenomenon, but in doing so overlooks acts of image-breaking that are taking place all too frequently today both outside and inside the gallery.
    The destruction of the Newport Chartist Mural has quickly become a political issue. Local protestors feel their democratic views have been brushed aside by a council more attentive to the commercial interests of the developers. The 35m-long mosaic, made in 1978 by Kenneth Budd, is of symbolic importance in this dispute, because it depicted a bloody confrontation that took place in 1839 between Newport Chartists – working class radicals who were campaigning for democratic reform – and government troops. Demolition of this image of popular resistance, in order to build a shopping centre, has not gone down well in the old socialist heartlands of South Wales.
    It is easy to dismiss such incidents as the isolated actions of irrational people. But as the Tate exhibition effectively demonstrates public art institutions become targets for iconoclastic attacks because they are perceived to represent a cultural or political establishment from which some people feel disenfranchised or excluded. And though most museums and galleries strive to be more accessible and less elitist, this openness leaves their collections exposed to those with malicious intent, and increasingly so at a time when funding cuts are affecting staffing levels.
    Tate’s show explores historical iconoclasm by examining the contested relationship between art and power. But it is worth remembering that these conflicts are very much alive today, wherever art is publicly displayed.


  12. laura manna says:

    To talk about iconoclasm in particular in connection with law, can also mean to talk about rebellion, about the FIGHT AGAINST POWER. That political power that finds its most solid manifestation in law, in the rule that constructs and imposes the system. It constructs and imposes , just because it is so much expression /tool of the power as its source of creation and legitimacy .
    We could better define the scope of iconoclasm in this anti-system dimension under a dual profile : on the one hand there are those who feel the need to scorn a given power , loser, to establish a new one, winner ( and in this perspective are included many examples already reported by my colleagues), on the other hand there are those who hate the power for what it is, what it represents: FEARSOME LIMIT TO HUMAN FREEDOM.
    “We aspire to the total negation of everything is established.
    Here is what motivates us”.
    Words of a Spanish anarchist who clearly makes the idea of anarchy.
    And just remaining in Spain( which was , between the end of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, the scene of popular uprising episodes inspired by ideals of freedom and emancipation), you may remember the famous “Semana tragica de Barcelona”, that revolutionary week (1909) where a strike turned into a real working-class revolt. In a few days more than eighty religious buildings were set on fire. Why destroy churches to rebel against the government ‘ policies?
    Delete every sacred expression which is ultimately the manifestation of the AUTHORITY.
    In the eyes of those rioting strikers, in effect, State and Church coincide and represent centuries of coercion and misery. No doubt: is not a mere opinion but it’s demonstrated by historical facts that the Catholic Church has always been on the side of power, of States, of economic interests with the practical consequences represented by wars, violence, torture, atrocities. And though today the Church’s role is resized, the clergy continues to preserve the status of power with its great heritage and its exquisite privileges, to say nothing about the whole clerical dogmatic approach that turns the pleasure in sin with all the ensuing effects on the level of ethic and moral coercion of individuals . . .

    In this framework we could also insert another example of this form of iconoclasm that is represented by burning flags, strong symbols of a Nation, certainly evocative symbols of the power or of the union under one power that is practically to say under a collective delimited SYSTEM.
    Looking closer to contemporary practice we may encounter forms of iconoclasm more “diplomatic”, if you want, or ,at least, iconoclastic excitement in most cases hidden through the veil of legitimate necessity. We can mention(connecting the discourse to the last statement of my colleague’s last comment about the relationship between art and power) the recent case of, I daresay, ‘iconoclastic threat’ feared by the Museum of Auschwitz , in turn , supported by the Polish Government ( despite the Auschwitz Museum is not a property of the Polish Government while it has been declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO), to the Italian authorities , having as target the Italian Memorial of block 21 in Auschwitz, a work of art, , created thank to personalities like, among the other, Primo Levi, Nelo Risi, the Sicilian Pupino Samonà; first multimedia installation in Europe ,which for more than thirty years honours the memory of deportations, Resistance and liberation of the camp by Red Army.
    In a few months we had to take away the installation (then moved to Florence) otherwise the Direction would DISMANTLE and DESTROY it to install a new Memorial. Why? According to the Direction of the Museum, the work did not correspond to the guidelines issued by the Museum in last years that require works characterized by illustrative-didactic mold, while the Italian “spiral” is a work of art that telling with the language of art.
    Most clear was the Italian Foreign Ministry when he said that the problem was “the presence in the work of artistic references to communism, now considered illegal in Poland”.
    We don’t need a lot of words to comment at this point.

    It falsifies the history
    It rewrites the history


  13. Simona Milardo says:

    Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons or monuments for political/religious motives.
    Beside the most famous fall of the Berlin wall, there are many examples of this in history, especially during revolutions.
    During the American Revolution, the Sons of Liberty pulled down the statue of George III of the UK on Bowling Green (NYC), during and after the Russian Revolution widespread destruction of imagery related to the Imperial family took place, in China the Cultural Revolution included the massacre of historic artworks in public places and private collections.
    Regarding recent events, the Islamic State continue to pursue iconoclasm: in 2015 ISIS destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin, a 2,000 year old UNESCO World Heritage site, because it was considered ‘blasphemous’ and ‘satanist’, in Palmyra (modern Tadmur), wrecked as well the 2,700 year old walls of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh and the ruins at Hatra, and ravaged many churches and mosques.


  14. Franziska Hertzberg says:

    The example I would like to bring forward is the one of political iconoclasm. By destroying political monuments and historically important or influential memorials of e.g. persons or signs the feeling of “doing justice” to what that person “deserves” or “washing off” of the guilt or the history that is being associated with that person comes to light. The destruction of iconoclasm itself becomes an issue of justice and law. A very famous example in that case is Germany after the World War 2, the swastika was used by the Nazi Regime to unite and imply power. After the Allied forces conquered and defeated Germany all of the pictures of Hitler and the swastika were forbidden in the whole country. Not only were they forbidden, but they were also removed from every public point in the whole country in order to assure that all of the left-overs of that dark time were eliminated and extinguished. For a short time Hitler and his swastika represented his laws and his ideas of justice after 1945 those images were forbidden and banned from the country by law.
    A more recent example of destructions of iconoclasms can be seen in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State. Not only did they destroy culturally and historically very important relics but also libraries, schools and museums that held a lot of knowledge about the past and ancient cultures. These relics represented religions and traditions of the past. Their political statement was to shock, get medial attention and simply wipe down all left-overs of previous cultures to build new constructions dedicated to their belief. According to their belief those actions are justifiable with their religion belonging to Salafism and more importantly it is an act of justice to them against the “Western world”, whereas for the “West” those acts are against the law and also to their understanding not justice. These acts of destroying iconoclasm like that have different sorts of backgrounds and motivations and can be seen all over the world going throughout history either as an act of doing justice or to even breaking the law and starting new.


  15. Giulia Baccarini says:

    Since ancient times human beings have always been used to give to pictures, sculptures and other objects a special meaning, making them become a simbol.
    This is an important process which has the ability to reinforce the particoular idea someone wants to convey with the meaning attributed to the symbol, making it a common ground to more people and something immediately obvious. We can find endless examples of images, symbols and allegorical figures with an universally recognized meaning, like the Christian cross, the star of David and the Yin and Yang about the religions, again lady justice and the balance about the law and much more, they all known all over the world.
    Conversely the iconoclasm is a movement which opposes to the worship of images and symbols for the fear that this could result in idolatry. It consists in the destruction of icons and other images and monuments for religious or political motives. In the past this has caused real wars, especially against Christianity that always reveres its icons, so one of the first and most atrocious iconoclastic battles brokes out during the period of the (high) Middle Ages when, in the Byzantine empire, the Emperor Leo III started a long period of rising opposition against the worship of the Cristian images.
    The iconoclastic movement properly understood is something that relates more to religion, as we can see from the events of the past and more recent ones, such as the Israelian struggle for the abolition of sacred images.
    Because iconoclasm is the destruction of the meaning given to a symbol , I think we can find numerous examples of this movement related to the “fight for justice” just looking to the ridicule of the symbols carried by modern artists.
    Trought satire three italian designers, Tiziano Riverso, Leonardo Magliacano and Tullio Boi, “destroy” simbols of justice, law and integrity, such as judges, ridiculing them. The three artists do that because in their opinion judjes today don’t have that quality any more.
    In a similar way the english artist Banksy has depicted the figure of justice as a prostitute with leather boots and a thong, as we saw in class he said it was a monument dedicated to thugs, to thieves, to bullies, to liars, to the corrupt, the arrogant and the stupid, because the stunt was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the death of Kevin Callan, the lorry driver who was the victim of a miscarriage of justice when he was convicted in 1991 for the murder of a four-year-old child and his conviction was overturned in 1995.
    In conclusion, I think because there’s iconoclasm it is not necessary only to physically destroy a symbol, but it can also be more effective to modify it to give it a different meaning , especially when the symbol is rooted in history and universally recognized


  16. Serena Di Domenica says:

    Destruction of icons and monuments, also known as Iconoclasm, was often practiced for religious reasons, but in others cases it was linked with political ideas. In periods of Revolutions and political changes, art was attacked. Sometimes it was linked to the need to delete memory and symbols of the former regime, other times it was practiced to show new values and new ideology. Examples of the first situation are the destruction of images of past tsars during the Russian October Revolution and the destruction of sculptures and images of Stalin during the Hungarian revolution of 1956 in Budapest. An example of the second situation is the demolition of entire streets and neighborhoods in Rome during the Fascist period: in 1936 the project of the demolition of a part of Borgo by Marcello Piacentini was approved by Mussolini and Pius XI and put in execution. In this way all the houses and monuments were demolished and a new grand avenue emerged: via della Conciliazione, that was a symbol, also in the name, of the new climate of collaboration between the State and the Church.


  17. Alicia Newman says:

    Iconoclasm can be defined as a destruction of icons, images, monuments, buildings, in other words tangible objects, that are either religious or carry with them some cultural or symbolic value. These cultural objects are being destroyed because of some religious or political movements opposed to what they stand for or simple disregard of their value.

    A recent illustration of recurrent iconoclasm are destructions committed by ISIS. Following the capture of the ancient city of Palmyra by ISIS in May 2015, this World Heritage site has been irreversibly destroyed. Palmyra constituted one of the most culturally significant places in the world of the ancient world. The uniqueness of the place derived from Palmyra being at the crossroads of the Greco-Roman art techniques combined with Persian influences. The monumental ruins in Palmyra that once formed this cultural hub of the ancient world have been destroyed by the extremist group – ISIS, so that they could form their new state from scratch, with a total erasure of the past history and civilization of the city.

    Due to Palmyra’s architectural, cultural and aesthetic splendor and uniqueness, it has been listed on the World Heritage List. The famous triumphal arch and Temple of Baal Shamin, were smashed by ISIS into pieces. The Temple Bel and the Mamluk Citadel also sustained extensive damages.

    The destruction perpetrated by ISIS was not just a breach of law, it was a making of a statement, that they are strong, invincible and most importantly that international laws/protection regimes will not stop them from doing what they deem to be right. Most likely, this terrorist group sees its actions as legitimate and justifiable. Its objective is to create a new Islamic state with ‘Islamic values’ as it sees them, and so in order to build that new state and create the foundation for this new ideology, it has to get rid of the past. Moreover, the actions taken by ISIS in Palmyra also demonstrate how little value they assign to this ancient history, which is a blend of various cultures with a multitude of archaeological and iconic edifices, which have no meaning neither worth to ISIS.


  18. PAOLA DE CINTIO says:

    The word Iconoclasm derives from the ancient Greek language, ‘eikon’ which means ‘image’ and ‘klao’, which means ‘to destroy’, in fact this political and religious movement has as the main idea the destruction of sacred images or icons and it spread in the Byzantines emperor with Leone Isaurico in the 8th century. The main reason of this movement was the fear for a growing veneration of sacred images and icons, that reflected on a political one and a religious semantic field.
    From the religious point of view, the movement of Iconoclasm took place because of the growing of church’s power and the fear that the veneration of sacred images could become a sort of idolatry. So, the church divided in two opposite groups: the supporters of the church one and the enemies of the church.
    From the political point of view, instead, the iconoclasm had the goal to bring back under the imperial’s control many territories on which a lot of churches were built. Lands that were no more under the imperial’s laws and were not subjected to the imperial’s taxes.
    What we are interest in are the example of Iconoclasm with the idea o flaw and justice. In my opinion two are the main examples that I thought about.
    The first example of Iconoclasm could be the protest against the exposition of crucified Christ (the cross) in the schools classes in Italy. In fact in the last years there are always more controversies about the elimination crucified Christ based on the principle of secularity that characterize the Italian state. The presence of the crucified Christ (the cross) in schools classes is mentioned for the first time in the ‘ LEGGE CASATI’ norm of 1859 based on the importance of the catholic religion in the schools of Sardinia. The norm referred only to the primary and secondary schools, where it was said that crucifix has to stand next to the image of Italians king. For the nursery school, high school and university there was no mention in the legislation. But the civil tribunals cannot legislate on this subject because the administrative measures taken by the ministry are not civil norms but just administrative measure, so the subject is to be legislated from the administrative regional tribunals. The Concil of State ( the supreme administrative regional tribunal) declares with two administrative orders, one in 1998 and the other in 2006, in favor of the presence of the crucified Christ (the cross) in the schools classes. Then, the Supreme European Court of the human rights declared, in the first grad in 3 november of 2009 with the sentence ‘LAUTZI V ITALIA ‘, that the crucified Christ (the cross) in the schools classes cannot longer be because it opposes with the right of the parents to educate their sons as they want and in a completely freedom. In the second grad, the court said, instead,with the sentence 18 mars of 2011 with 15 votes in favor and 2 opposite, that the presence of the crucified Christ (the cross) in the schools classes does not influence the students.


  19. Sevina Metodieva says:

    In history, there are many mentions on iconoclasm, especially into the religious environment. In particular, iconoclasm developed in the eight century, during the Byzantine Empire. The basis of this doctrine was the claim that the veneration of icons may result in a sort of idolatry and veneration itself. In any place where the images of Christ and the Virgin Mary were venerated, they were destroyed by the flames, first under the command of Leo III and, later, by Constantine.

    Some other examples of the destruction of images for religious purposes are identified during the Protestant reformers. In fact, John Calvin encouraged the destruction of religious images.

    Somehow, someway, even today we can find a kind of iconoclasm. I’m talking about the covering up of ancient nude statues during Hassan Rouhani’s official visit in Rome. This was made in sign of respect for the Iranian President, but non everyone agreed.

    For some political reasons, the destruction of images became a symbolical rebirth, such as the removal of portraits and any other traces of Stalin’s opponents during the Great Purge.


  20. Marine Saada says:

    Iconoclasm literally means “image breaking” and refers to a recurring historical impulse to break or destroy images for religious or political reasons. This destruction is inherent in various societies and periods of human history since it took place on many occasions, such as the demolition of communist propaganda publicity measures, which followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the collapse of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Therefore, regarding history, Iconoclasm can be seen as a sign of transformation that reflects a political, social or legal change in the societies. One of the most significant example of iconoclasm associated with these previous mutations is the French revolution of 1789. In fact, the French revolution was combined with crucial legal revolution characterised by the fall of the French monarchy, the rejection of the clergy and to a massive nationalisation of the church property, meaning that all church property belonged to the nation. Therefore, in order to fight the broken down institutions based on an unequal system of privileges, the French revolutionaries committed acts of so-called « vandalism » destroying all the images, statues or representations religiously connoted or which embodied the monarchy.

    Nowadays, iconoclasm stills an extremely relevant issue regarding the actual political events. In fact, ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State posted several videos on the internet showing militants destroying centuries-old antiquities and buildings like the archaeological museum of Mosul, in Iraq, but also destroying the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, in Syria. By attacking these antique sites, ISIS marks its rejection of culture and western norms and values, similar situation occurred in 2001, when the Taliban blew up the two enormous Buddha statues in the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan.

    Consequently, regarding history and the current political events, iconoclasm can signifies both, an act of protestation illustrating a landmark movement or evolution in the political or social landscape, but also an act reflecting an extreme archaism embodying by a rejection of art, culture, and somehow humanity in itself.


  21. Alessandro C. says:

    It could seem hard to talk about iconoclasm, nowadays.

    Originally, the word iconoclasm comes from byzantine greek: “eikonoklastes”.

    “Eikon-onos” means “image”, while “klasis” means “rupture”.

    Philosophically talking, the expression comes from the doom of images as “copy of a copy”, being the whole “sensible” world just a copy of the world of the “ideas” ( Plato docet ).

    Facing the recent destructions by the hand of the Islamic State, it is important to stop for a while on the phenomenon of artistic destruction as a strategy of war, led by armed groups or, even, other social groups. One example could be the destruction of Mosul statues, made by the IS, as far as the one of Bamiyan Buddha’s, in 2001, by the hand of the Talibans. Another example is the destruction of structures of art with the American invasion in Iraq, in 2003.

    These destructions do not properly “belong” to the religious iconoclastic catalogue: they belong to the history of “politic iconoclasm”, which is a term coined in our “era” to delineate a religious fanatic-stamp which became, with time, a tool to get to a subversive politics.

    The public interest is that to protect art, and the destruction of the images, the structures, the building, everything which has the chance to represent something else, means and brings, at the very same time, the demolition of the hope that these “tools” ( such as images, structures, building, etc. ) could even work as a “tool, a mean for healing”.

    It is a paradox, however, how laws aimed to punish artistic vandalism are often so lacking, because art itself is not identified as a “field on its own” inside the juridical category of vandalism.


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