Rudy Pradenas Alvarez
My master thesis, entitled Paradox of Art in the Consensus Epoch. Art and Democracy in Chile and Latin America (2012), addressed the nation-states’ recent transformations due to neoliberal globalization, and interrogated the consequences of this neoliberal model for the field of cultural production. I researched, specifically, the impact of this radical turn in visual arts. I proposed that this radical turn brought about a number of paradoxes for the traditional political thinking related to the practices of art. In other words, the field of visual arts had to rethink its inherent politics within this historical context, having as alterative to become a post-political practice or to be consensual (official) and fits within the pervasive imperatives of modernization and globalization. I analyzed the contradictory insistence on “political art” in a new context where the traditional emancipatory impulses related to the former avant-garde movements were neutralized. Within the main problems I confronted in this thesis I should mention: (1) the relationship between images, violence, and consensus; (2) the tension between the framework of consensual democracy and the framework of political art; and (3) the series of debates between globalization and identitarism, from the perspective of the global circulation of Latin American art.
Currently, I am working in the final part of my Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy, entitled “Politics of anonymity in Latin America”. This project seeks to address the relationship between cinema and political philosophy in Latin America. For this relationship we refer both to the way in which a series of concepts coming out of the field of political philosophy have worked as a matrix of interpretation for cinematographic production; and to those political concepts which have been the basis of theorizations and works of Latin American filmmakers themselves. The main studies which have addressed this relationship in Latin America base their conclusions on an essentialist notions of politics, that is to say, on the values of “lo propio”, of origin and authenticity. In this sense, these studies have produced a limited and narrow understanding of politics. For this reason, for the complexity that, starting from the XIX century and continuing through the XX century, these phenomena acquire, I deem it necessary to rethink them within a philosophical framework more akin to this complexity. This project proposes, in the first place, to disengage the politics of cinema in Latin America from the essentialist framework mentioned above. In the second place, it proposes a politics of cinema that is not limited neither to the mere transmission of pedagogical messages nor to the representation of conventional political subjects, such as the people, the mass, or the multitude.
The main objective of this project is to reconsider the relationship between cinema and politics in Latin America, in order (1) to question the restriction of the discussion on the complex politics of cinema to a single brief period and a single group of authors and films known as militant cinema; and (2) to re-think a politics of cinema in Latin America beyond the functions of representation and communication as understood within the framework of the metaphysics of Latin Americanist thought (lo propio / lo impropio; authentic/copy; identity/difference).
To accomplish these objectives, we plan to investigate the practices and discourses of cinema in Latin America, from a philosophical perspective that acknowledges the complexity of the intertwining of aesthetics and politics in the domain of cinema. Using the concept of anonymity, this study will reconsider a neglected corpus of films and discourses in order to rethink the politics of cinema: instead of politicization and the metaphysics of identity, this study will propose a “politics of anonymity” in the cinema of Latin America.
Rudy Pradenas is Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Philosophy at Leiden University and Universidad Diego Portales, Chili. He holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and Master in Cultural Studies. As part of the Phd. program he has been visiting scholar at Northwestern University and University of Southern California.