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Secular Saints

Secular Saints: Performing Frida Kahlo, Carlos Gardel, Eva Perón, and Selena

SARAH M. MISEMER
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdmrn
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  • Book Info
    Secular Saints
    Book Description:

    Contemporary icons are drawn from popular culture - musicians, artists, actors, and other personalities we hear on radio or see on television, on screen, in print and in cyberspace. Today's 'gods' are media personalities, and cults surround stars and artists like Frida Kahlo, Carlos Gardel, Eva Perón, and Selena. Because of transnational and global trends in importing and exporting cultural products, the paintings, music, and politics that these figures crafted accrue symbolic meaning in multiple formats. By viewing them through the lens of performance art we can begin to see how their polyvalent personas were first molded and perfected for the public through paintings, tangos, politics, and Tejano music. Once they fashioned their own complex images, these multi-layered icons continued to travel after death over international boundaries, gendered divisions, political borders, and language barriers. Their reincarnation on stage has allowed dramatists to affix and generate new associations, thus converting them into secular saints for contemporary audiences. SARAH M. MISEMER lectures in Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University, College Station.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-673-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: DISENCHANTED IDOLS
    (pp. 1-16)

    Theater and performance have the unique quality of existing equally apart from “reality” and as a part of “reality.” Mimesis and illusion are, paradoxically, part and parcel of the continuum of spectacle.¹ Consequently, the semiotics of classic theater and contemporary performance remind us that a fundamental difference arises between the representation of a role (character/personaje) by an actor and the ephemeral phenomenon of the performer who speaks and acts in his/her own name to a public (Pavis 333–34). It is this interstitial space, uniting and separating the two functions of spectacle, which forms the basis for my inquiry into...

  5. 1 (S)EX-VOTOS: “MIRACULOUS” PERFORMANCES OF THE BODY AND POLITICS BY FRIDA KAHLO
    (pp. 17-46)

    The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who died over fifty years ago, continues to enjoy popularity because of her uncommon artwork and lifestyle. She was a painter and lithographer, an artist in the traditional sense, but she was also what we now term a performance artist. Much of her creative work was performative; she used her body as a medium for expressing her political, social, and cultural ideologies. In most cases, her approach was considered non-traditional for a woman living in Mexico during the first half of the twentieth century: she was a Marxist, she experimented with lesbian relationships, she cross-dressed,...

  6. 2 PERFORMING PALIMPSESTS: SCRAPING TOGETHER CARLOS GARDEL
    (pp. 47-96)

    In much the same way that Frida Kahlo made performance an integral part of her craft, Carlos Gardel, the tango singer of the 1920s and 1930s, also performed as part of his public and private life, in his songs, on the movie screen, and in publicity. In fact, Gardel’s career offers the theater crowd of the postmodern era an array of performances as material for dramatic works. Gardel’s star quality and playboy image made him immensely popular during the 1920s and 1930s in the River Plate area. What is truly significant, however, is his staying power. His unique style and...

  7. 3 CORPSE AND CORPUS: THE INCORRUPTIBLE SANTA EVITA
    (pp. 97-124)

    Eva María (Ibarguren) Duarte de Perón’s ascent from nobody to somebody is the stuff of legends. Her transformation from a poor, uneducated country girl into the elegant and powerful wife of the president of Argentina is the fairy tale that continues to fascinate Argentina and the world long after her death in 1952.¹ Perhaps most compelling is the legacy that Evita, the nickname she cultivated and was popularly known by, left behind her. Her multifaceted image represents simultaneously all points on the moral spectrum, and she is equally admired and despised. In the small 5’ 2” body that traveled from...

  8. 4 THE BROWN MADONNA: CROSSING THE BORDERS OF SELENA’S MARTYRDOM
    (pp. 125-151)

    The ending of a life and the making of an immortal Latina legend took place at a Days Inn Motel in Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 31, 1995 when the Tex-Mex singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was fatally shot by her fan club president Yolanda Saldívar. The success Selena enjoyed while alive has continued and perhaps even grown since her death. Rafael Molina characterizes Selena with the words “mito, industria, culto y negocio” (myth, industry, cult, and business) in his article commemorating the fifth anniversary of her death. Others refer to her as a sort ofMadonna latina, and label her enormous...

  9. CONCLUSION: IN SYNC OR IN EXCESS? SYMBIOTIC BLENDINGS OF MEXICO AND THE RIVER PLATE
    (pp. 152-168)

    Mexico and the River Plate region are centers of great historical importance, both in the political and in the aesthetic senses. Each represented a seat of power (along with the territory that would later be Perú) under the colonial system ofvirreinatos(viceroyships) which controlled theNuevo Mundo(New World). Through the influence of the Spanish conquerors, these centers were exposed to European religion and culture. As part of this process of hybridization, the practice of staging plays became a powerful tool for the Spaniards as they sought to control and indoctrinate the indigenous peoples of the region in the...

  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 169-178)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 179-183)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 184-184)