The Politics of Photographic Aesthetics in Latin America: Photography, Beauty, and Violence in Argentine and Brazilian Film in the Twenty-First Century Open Access

Ruginis, Janike (2016)

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In this dissertation I trace a recurrent form of the photographic medium in the political history of Argentina and Brazil as represented in twenty-first century Argentine and Brazilian film. The films that compose this historical portraiture address within their filmic narrative cultural, social, and political concerns during periods of rapid economic and political shifts. This history spans the accumulation of capital via agricultural exports in the nineteenth century, followed by the rise of the labor-conscious revolutionary left and its oppression by dictatorial forces in the twentieth century, in turn followed by the implementation of neoliberal economic structures and the eventual destabilization of this economy in the wake of the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina. The thread that links these films is their common use of the photographic medium as a narrative tool. The films incorporate the photographic medium--either through its emergence as a photograph, a photographer, or via the cinematic evocation of a photographic moment--as a crucial element in articulating, demonstrating, and denouncing violence related to economic and political change within Argentina and Brazil. Each chapter becomes a portrait that maps the use of photography in exposing repressive political and economic structures. This dissertation demonstrates how photography comes to the fore as a narrative element that highlights this violence, as it is represented within the filmic narrative, while also offering the possibility of resisting the repressive state and/or economic structures exposed as the culprits of this violence. It is at the intersection of political meaning and beautiful representation that the films I analyze posit the photographic medium as a critical instrument for bringing to the fore socio-economic and political violence in Latin America while also posing the possibility of liberation from its repressive structures.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

The Politics of Photographic Aesthetics in Latin America

Chapter One. 42

The Photographer's Lens: Visualizing Beauty in María Victoria Menis's La cámara oscura (Camera Obscura; 2008) and Júlia Murat's Histórias que Só Existem Quando Lembradas (Found Memories; 2011)

Chapter Two. 73

Photographing Political Consciousness in Walter Salles's Diarios de motocicleta (Motorcycle Diaries; 2004) and Julio Cortázar's "Apocalipsis de Solentiname" ("Apocalypse at Solentiname"; 1976)

Chapter Three. 137

Photographing Citizenship: Daniel Burman's Esperando al mesías (Waiting for the Messiah; 2000) and Lucy Walker's Lixo Extraordinário (Waste Land; 2010)

Conclusion. 177

Works Cited. 186

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