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Painting, Literature and Film in Colombian Feminine Culture, 1940-2005

Painting, Literature and Film in Colombian Feminine Culture, 1940-2005: Of Border Guards, Nomads and Women

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 307
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Painting, Literature and Film in Colombian Feminine Culture, 1940-2005
    Book Description:

    Women artists, writers and filmmakers in Colombia have consistently foregrounded the relationship between gender and the often violent processes which have marked the country's history over the past century. This book explores crucial moments in the emergence of feminine culture in Colombia hitherto unexamined in English-language criticism through an examination of the work of ground-breaking artist Débora Arango, best-selling novelist Laura Restrepo, and three generations of documentary filmmakers. Deborah Martin shows how Colombian women writers and artists have critiqued discourses that territorialize femininity and provided alternative models that free women from their passive or allegorical representational status as border guards, re-thinking feminine subjectivity and taking it to new symbolic territories. The book's approach - comparing art, literature and film - reveals a resistive trajectory in dialogue with dominant tendencies in Colombian feminist theory, itself the product of an intellectual sphere conditioned by the need to think about political violence. DEBORAH MARTIN is a Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies at University College London.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-091-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Deborah Martin
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    The Colombian salsa group Niche’s 1989 hit, ‘Me sabe a Perú’, now a classic throughout Latin America, is a celebration of Colombia’s relationship with a bordering country with which, not so long ago, it had been at war, and a call for unity between the two nations. It is also an illustration of how femininities circulate within discourse as markers of borders and territories, specific femininities being ideologically bound up with a sense of place or belonging, the idea of ‘woman’ bearing the symbolic weight of community. Femininity itself can also be seen as symbolic territory, ripe for inscription with...

  6. Part I: The Female Body in Débora Arango

    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 27-36)

      Débora Arango (1907–2005) was Colombia’s foremost female painter of the twentieth century.¹ During the early part of her career (1930s–1940s) her work caused great controversy, polarizing public and academic opinion. It was intermittently and variously censored, and she was largely ignored towards the end of her career (1950s–1970s), but achieved recognition latterly, winning prestigious national prizes and critical acclaim from the 1980s onwards. She is now firmly within the Colombian canon, and considered a part of national patrimony. According to Judy Chicago and Edward Lucie-Smith this is ‘a pattern not uncommon in the case of gifted female...

    • 1 The Female Nude: Porous Boundaries
      (pp. 37-57)

      Despite Santiago Londoño Vélez’s assertion that ‘fue con una serie de grandes desnudos femeninos naturalistas [que Arango] alteró el canon académico vigente en la representación del cuerpo femenino’ (Arte colombiano, p. 240), there has been no detailed critical appraisal of the nude in her work. Breaking away from the academicist pictorial tradition which still dominated the Colombian artistic milieu, Arango’s work constitutes a trangression of the formal and aesthetic visual codes which Linda Nochlin in her essay ‘Women, Art, and Power’ argues have inscribed the female form in western art with the ideology of gender difference.

      The critic Álvaro Robayo...

    • Plates
      (pp. None)
    • 2 Landscape and Maternity Painting: Boundary Markers, Biopower and Birth
      (pp. 58-82)

      After independence, and in the first half of the twentieth century, attempts to imagine and consolidate national identity were prominent in artistic output in Colombia. The late nineteenth century saw a predominance of landscape painting, the calm and serenity of which both evoked a rural ideal for the urban consumers of art in cities undergoing processes of modernization, and smoothed over the violent political, economic and social upheavals which actually characterized life in the countryside (Londoño Vélez, Arte colombiano, 199–201). In the early part of the twentieth century, the important Bogotá-based Bachué movement favoured a return to the images...

  7. Part II: Gender, Identity and Desire in Laura Restrepo

    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 83-90)

      Laura Restrepo, journalist and writer, has published six novels: La isla de la pasión, (1989), Leopardo al sol (1993), Dulce compañía (1995), La novia oscura (1999), Delirio (2004), and Demasiados héroes (2009) and the novella La multitud errante (2001).¹ She is also the author of Historia de una traición (1986), an account of the failure of peace talks between the government and the M-19 guerrilla movement.² In the 1970s and 1980s, previously marginal or repressed literary perspectives emerged in Colombia, and literary production ceased to be dominated by discourses related either to Macondo or to la Violencia (Williams, pp. 186...

    • 3 Performing Gender, Modernity and Television in Leopardo al Sol
      (pp. 91-118)

      Leopardo al sol¹ is, on one level, a historical document which charts Colombia’s absorption into global drug-trafficking processes in the late 1970s and 1980s, and the consequent cultural changes. During this period, rapid acquisition of wealth made for the accelerated modernization of lifestyle and the rise of new cultural identities and social configurations, which co-existed, sometimes uneasily, with traditional ones. Although it seems that Restrepo wishes to achieve a degree of universalization through a refusal to pinpoint the novel’s exact temporal and geographical setting, it seems clear that she is describing the ’70s and ’80s when the drug cartels were...

    • 4 Mothers and Nomadic Subjects: La Novia Oscura
      (pp. 119-138)

      La novia oscura¹ is concerned with the new cultural identities created by changing configurations of wealth in Colombia in the 1940s, specifically with the new communities formed around flows of capital present as a result of the insertion of North American wealth in the creation of an oil industry in the north-east of the country. The arrival of multinational capitalism in the region fragments former configurations of community and desire and, to an extent, institutions of class and gender control. Temporary homosocial sub-communities are formed, and these, for a brief time, threaten to disrupt institutions of patriarchy and capitalism. The...

  8. Part III: Women’s Documentary Film: Slipping Discursive Frames

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 139-146)

      This section offers an alternative genealogy of Colombian cinema, taking women’s documentary as a new critical category and arguing that it constitutes a tradition within Colombian film-making which has previously been overlooked. It traces women’s production from its early successes as part of the New Latin American Cinema movement, through the formation of feminist film groups in the 1980s, and to the present day, when Colombian documentary increasingly reflects the ongoing armed conflict as well as transnationalism in film production. Within Colombia at least, it seems that women have been more interested in (or perhaps more capable of, given the...

    • 5 Re-Reading Chircales: Interiority, the Girl and Documentary Desire
      (pp. 147-161)

      Chircales is a canonical text of the New Latin American Cinema, a movement which, according to Zuzana Pick, ‘by underscoring class as the primary instance of social relations [has] rarely taken into account gender-specific forms of social and political oppression’ (p. 66). Chircales, though, with its insistent focus on some of the basic tenets of feminist theory of the era, could only have been classified as solely class-based by a gender-blind criticism, making it, paradoxically, somewhat atypical of the New Latin American Cinema movement. Whilst both Pick (pp. 66–96) and B. Ruby Rich have argued that the movement’s feminist...

    • 6 Mother’s Body, Daughter’s Voice: Female Genealogy, Invasión and Cinema in La Mirada de Myriam
      (pp. 162-173)

      The short film La mirada de Myriam (1986) is an example of the work of the women’s film collective Cine Mujer. This piece, directed by Clara Riascos, represents one of their most accomplished productions, and probably the most ‘canonical’, given that it is the only Cine Mujer film to be included in the ‘Maletas de Cine Colombiano’.¹ Its modernist belief in agency, its preoccupation with oppressed groups, and strong belief in women’s power to effect change and to mobilize testifies to the legacy of the New Latin American Cinema as well as to second-wave feminist discourse. In the late 1970s...

    • 7 Gender Performances and Narratives of Place, Modernity and Desire in La Sierra
      (pp. 174-188)

      La Sierra, the directorial debut of the journalist team Margarita Martínez and Scott Dalton, inhabits an interesting interstitial space between documentary practices or modes and discursive traditions. Dalton and Martínez worked as journalists at the Associated Press in Bogotá, before embarking on the filming of La Sierra. This extraordinary film has made waves both at home and abroad, and constitutes a fresh approach to some of the well-worn themes of recent Colombian cultural production, among them the violence of male subaltern youth.¹ In a tradition which includes Chircales and Luis Ospina’s Oiga, vea (1971), of a ‘crítica social efectuada sobre...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 189-210)

    To study the work of several generations of women artists risks essentialism, as any attempt to outline a generic discourse, aesthetics or politics rests on the assumption of some shared quality in the work or in the women who have produced it. Although I have sometimes referred to the artists here as searching for or creating a feminine language, I have been motivated less by the imperative to define a specific Colombian feminine culture than by the desire to consider how a plurality of different voices sometimes overlaps, how parallels arise in the framing of women’s experience or in the...

    (pp. 211-226)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 227-234)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-235)