La ciénaga
Distanciation and embodiment
in The cinema of Lucrecia Martel
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Chapter 1 argues that in La ciénaga, her first feature film, Lucrecia Martel effects an important challenge to the aesthetic codes which have defined intellectual and resistive cinema. It shows La ciénaga to be a highly reflexive film which uses many of the distancing and defamiliarising techniques associated with political and counter cinemas. Yet the film’s aesthetics also function to challenge a disembodied intellect, or Cartesian viewing subjectivity by forming a transgressive material relationship between the viewer’s body and the sticky, swampy body of the film. Attending to the film both as a text with meaning, but also as a ‘body that performs’ (Kennedy), the chapter shows how the digetic experiments of child characters, and the filmic experiments which accompany them, work to counter the stagnation of the body and the domestication of perception associated with dominant cinematic forms. The chapter also shows how the processes of defamiliarisation in which the film engages are countered by its tactile and sensorial aesthetics, which it undertands as a form of refamiliarisation, a bringing into bodily proximity, of that which is abjected and excluded by the social order.

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