restricted access Configuring and Reconfiguring Cathedral Space in the Spanish Atlantic: From Cathedral-Mosque to Baroque Machine
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Configuring and Reconfiguring Cathedral Space in the Spanish Atlantic From Cathedral-Mosque to Baroque Machine Sing D’Arcy P+++++++p When in the early 1520s Luis de Moya and his team began the construction of the Cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación in Santo Domingo, the architectural links that would unite the American and European shores of the Atlantic were cemented into place. This act of spiritual and temporal confidence was a declamation in stone that the Christian and Spanish presence in the Americas would not only be permanent but also one sanctioned by Heaven itself. The emigration of Moya, the team of builders, and the very designs themselves from Seville, puerto y puerta de las Indias, reflect the formal and symbolic influence this city was to have on the development of ecclesiastical architecture not only within Spain but in the Hispanic world as a whole. While much scholarship has been directed at the formal evolution of the architecture of the IberoAmerican Atlantic, the role in which this architectural development was shaped by and came to configure notions of religion and space within a transatlantic context has been less well explored. To investigate the wealth of ideas and challenges that this theme implies, this essay charts a course that symbolically replicates that of Moya—one that begins in Seville and continues into the New World. This course is one of an analysis of spatial morphology and typology, while simultaneously being one mapped by the distinct religious and cultural contexts unique to the expanse of the Hispanic realm. It is these contexts, I believe, that shaped the development of ecclesiastical space in Spain and the Americas and not, as conventional historiography paints, an evolution based on teleologically ingrained deviations or misinterpretations of continental European models and styles, in particular those of the French Gothic and later the Roman Baroque. The contexts in question are those of reconquest and conquest, which like the construction of the cathedrals of Seville and Santo Domingo, were both spiritual (religious) and temporal (spatial). The moments of greatest symbolic weight during the Spanish reconquest were marked by the reappropriation, 202 Sing D’Arcy reconfiguration, and eventual rebuilding of mosques into churches. While the initial act of reconfiguring Islamic space to Christian space was a symbol of victory, the ongoing evangelization of the heterodox population was realized through the construction of new spaces that incorporated the planimetric characteristics of the mosque while implementing a distinctly Christian volumetric and spatial configuration. This is best represented in the translation of the morphology of the cathedral-mosque into the iglesia-salón—hall church. It is this model that Moya brought with him from Seville in the 1520s and with it the same spiritual and spatial tactics that charged it with such potent symbolic force. The morphology of the iglesia-salón and its configuration of the liturgical nucleus “al español” was adopted almost universally as the basis for all cathedral constructions in the cities of reconquest Spain and those in the Americas. As had been demonstrated in Spain, the long time frame of cathedral-scale constructions meant that the interior configuration of the ecclesiastical space could not be fully realized until the fabric of the structure had been completed. This implied a lag of generations between the benediction of the foundation stone and the consecration of the high altar. While the iglesia-salón had been the expression of the absolute triumph of the reconquest, it was the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century interior that manifested the apogee of the utopian vision of the conquest and its program of spiritual control and ecclesiastical power. Extant spaces, in the case of the Peninsula, or recently completed ones, in the case of the Americas, were equipped with suites of Baroque machines— máquinas—which transformed the iglesia-salón into a “magic garden,” configured by glittering altarpieces, organ cases, and devotional chapels.1 Each of these máquinas, like their theatrical counterparts, were designed to exaggerate the emotive and dramatic experience of a particular scene. The spatial and emotional experience is choreographed on the play of tension between the isotropic volume of the iglesia-salón and the discrete spatial entities of the máquinas, designed to illicit sensations of shock and wonder, leaving the experiensor vulnerable to spiritual affectation. While this characteristic of affect is to be found in all aspects of Baroque culture, it could be argued that its most extreme spatial manifestations were in the ecclesiastical...


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