Subjective realism, social disintegration and bodily affection in Lucrecia Martel’s La ciénaga (2001)
Julián Daniel Gutiérrez- Albilla
Lucrecia Martel's La ciénaga represents family and social disintegration, which is caused in part by the failure of communication or emotional dysfunction and annihilation, in the context of the decadent world of the traditional rural Argentine society, through the use of what could be defined as a subjective realistic cinematic style. By establishing a connection, or by working at the intersection, between Martel's cinematic practice and Bracha Ettinger's groundbreaking theoretical propositions, this chapter explores how La ciénaga offers a representational and critical alternative to an orthodox feminist political project, which remains confined to the subject of women's rights, bodies, histories and oppressions, in the form of an identity-based representational mode of politics. Martel's cinematic style produces bodily sensations that may be divorced from any referents, thereby affecting our senses and forcing us to react to the film on a corporeal, bodily, perceptual and affective level.
While women directors continue to be a minority in most national and transnational film contexts, there are those among them who rank among the most innovative and inventive of filmmakers. Filmmaking by women becomes an important route to exploring what lies outside of and beyond the stereotype through reflexivity on violence and conflict, and through visual and narrative explorations of migration, exile, subjectivity, history or individual and collective memory. By documenting and interpreting a fascinating corpus of films made by women coming from Latin America, the US, Portugal and Spain, this book proposes research strategies and methodologies that can expand our understanding of socio-cultural and psychic constructions of gender and sexual politics. It critically examines the work of Hispanic and Lusophone female filmmakers. It 'weaves' several 'threads' by working at the intersections between feminist film theory, gender studies and film practices by women in Latin America, the US, Portugal and Spain. The book explores the transcultural connections, as well as the cultural specificities, that can be established between Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American and Latino contexts within and beyond the framework of the nation state. It suggests that the notion of home and of Basque motherland carry potentially different resonances for female directors.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the work of Hispanic and Lusophone female filmmakers. It concentrates on the issues of critical discourse and debates and filmic or cultural representation, thereby seeking new ways of approaching the complicated status of Hispanic and Lusophone female identities and subjectivities through filmic and theoretical analyses and offering critical interventions and theoretical interrogations in existing scholarship. The book traces the historical connections that can be mapped vis-à-vis the production of films made by women and the process of social emancipation of women in societies that have been historically associated with a patriarchal and even heteronormative ideology. It looks at certain cinematic practices to raise questions of alterity in subjective and intersubjective processes, thinking, thus, of the question of femininity beyond a patriarchal system of thought based on lack and castration.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the first part of this book. The book shares a common politics of revision with regard to hegemonic perceptions of history and memory at a collective level. According to philosopher Paul Ricreur, history and memory are interwoven, both being selective in their choice of what is remembered, reliant upon traces of the past in order to do so and fraught with forgetting. Yet, most will agree that the narratives of history have been repeatedly used to commemorate and consolidate a fixed and authoritative vision of the past in order to perpetuate set ideological schemes. In the context of Hispanic and Lusophone cinema, one can add to this fixed ideological landscape the overriding influence of Hollywood, with its focus on questions of capital, hegemony and domination. Meanwhile, memory, both collective and individual, has often remained overshadowed, unvoiced and apparently irrelevant.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the second part of this book. The book explores the concepts of exile and the uncanny, or unheimlich, and thus in turn implicitly the concept of home, in relation to Basque cinema. It suggests that the notion of home and of Basque motherland carry potentially different resonances for female directors. According to Edward Said, culture is inextricably and inherently linked to the manifestations of conflicts. As a mass medium, cinema becomes a means of representing cultural conflicts as a way of self-consciously or unconsciously reinforcing those social and ideological antagonisms, vicissitudes and turbulences. Cinema also mediates individual and collective experiences and discourses or reflects upon these processes in order to propose and to imagine alternative symbolic systems that may potentially contribute to political change and social transformation.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the third part of this book. The book examines the work of three Spanish women filmmakers, namely Icíar Bollaín, Chus Gutiérrez and Ariadna Pujol in order to analyse the dissonant encounters between immigrants and locals in rural areas of Spain. Implicit in the very idea of bringing together the work of women filmmakers from Hispanic and Lusophone contexts is the notion that these cultural categories must necessarily be viewed in terms of their migratory and transnational histories. Migration, transnationalism and the crossing of borders must be seen as key aspects of contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone cinema. When viewed in terms of migration, transnationalism and the question of borders, what comes to light is the contingency and alterability of that which is apparently solid or is generally assumed to be fixed.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the fourth part of this book. The book explores how filmic autobiography brings aural and visual elements to the fore in its construction of selfhood on the screen. It explores the way that Lucrecia Martel's La ciénaga represents family and social disintegration in the context of the decadent world of traditional rural Argentine society through the use of a subjective realistic cinematic style. Subjectivity has been a crucial concern for cultural theory in general and, more relevant in the context of this book, feminist theory for the past decades. Although some theorists are exploring how analogy may be integral to subjectivity, it is often thought that the constitution of subjectivity is based on lack and castration and that it is always rooted in sexual difference.