Baroque Modes of Seeing: Reinventing Neo-Baroque in Contemporary Latin American Cinema
While the Latin American literary neo-baroque garnered significant attention, scholarship on its cinematic counterpart has been relatively scarce. What is more, existing studies situate this aesthetics within the anti-dictatorship contexts of the 1970s–80s, which contradicts major neo-baroque theories that view it as an ahistorical aesthetics relevant to Latin American modernities. “Baroque Modes of Seeing: Reinventing Neo-baroque in Contemporary Latin American Cinema” is a dissertation that addresses this gap in research and argues for the relevance of the neo-baroque in contemporary Latin American cinema. I engage texts by Severo Sarduy, José Lezama Lima, Alejo Carpentier, Serge Gruzinski, Irlemar Chiampi and others with close analysis of films produced since the year 2000 to glean new ways in which the neo-baroque finds expression in contemporary cinema. Chapter two includes three contemporary films that defy ideologies underpinning both state apparatus and cinematic ones. Jorge Alí Triana’s ¡Bolívar soy yo! (Colombia, 2002) offers a carnivalized version of a contemporary Simón Bolívar whose figure is so bizzarely amplified that it can even accomodate the guy next door. The film questions our commitment to symbolisms trapped in statues and tests our readiness to give a baroque, quixotic modern Bolívar a chance. Sérgio Bianchi’s film Cronicamente inviável offers a sharp criticism of Brazil’s chronic disorder precisely by creating an unsettling picture of the country that transmits chaos and disillusion. Quanto vale ou é por quilo? continues Bianchi’s zeal for creating a chaotic filmic experience that is triggered by the juxtaposition of historical and contemporary forms of social injustice intermingling under the film’s baroque layers. Chapter three explores the expression of popular baroques in two Peruvian films directed by Claudia Llosa. Madeinusa, (2006) projects a raw baroque sensibility that underlies miscegenation, religious festivities, simulacra and carnival at the same time revealing baroque’s odd pertinence in contemporary Peru. Llosa’s second film titled La teta asustada (2009) liberates itself from the baroque ornamentation resulting from a cultural hybridity seen in Madeinusa to create a bare, delicate world where the baroque emanates from allegories that almost elude us. The final chapter studies films by two auteurs commonly associated with the baroque aesthetics. Arturo Ripstein’s El carnaval de Sodoma (Mexico, 2006) promises a carnival party, but ends up extracting carnival out of the drama of its characters’ bodily obsessions and the film’s baroque temptation to metamorphosize and disguise itself. La noche de enfrente, the farewell film by one of the most baroque directors Raúl Ruiz (Chile, 2012) invites us on a dreamlike journey with a retiring poet to explore labyrinthine routes of imaginary spaces, memory, and death.
Dixon, Purdue University.
Latin American literature|Film studies
Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our