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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Subverting spectacular binaries : an analysis of diasporic Venezuelan audiovisual productions Kirchenbauer, Johann Christian


Recent artistic productions by Venezuelan diaspora members showcase engaging interpretations of their perceived sociocultural rupture with their place of origin. More specifically, audiovisual projects by three Venezuelan musicians, punk band La Vida Bohème, Viniloversus, and Arca, include attempts to represent their experiences as diasporic subjects. As individuals they create their understanding of historical and cultural elements. Whether it is La Vida Bohème’s direct engagement with historical moments such as Venezuelan Black Friday in “Viernes negro / Helena” (2013) or as merely borrowing cultural artifacts such as in Arca’s María Lionza statue in “Prada/Rakata” (2021), their music videos highlight interpretations of their cultural repertoire. Rather than attempting to hide elements of their cultural milieu under totalizing narratives —such as populist discourse, or spectacular consumption— their productions become a heterogenous mélange. The two driving totalizing narratives analyzed in this thesis are Uslar Pietri’s “Sembrar El Petróleo” (1936) and the Spectacle according to Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967). Moreover, the ideals presented by these two hegemonic discourses are challenged through the music videos’s emphasis on the heterogeneity found within individuals’s definition of their selves. Thus, the objective set out for this thesis is the exploration of the construction of a diasporic self through analyses of a selection of cultural products within the Venezuelan diaspora. I argue that this is precisely where a potential alternative to the spectacular system can be found. Rather than idealizing an illusory “whole” based on spectacular consumption, cultural pieces are able to represent and highlight fragmented aspects necessary for the creation of the subjects’s self to challenge the isolation that the Spectacle is founded upon. The emphasis on the fragmentary aspects of the formation of diasporic selves found in these audiovisual representations promotes the potential for subverting spectacular binaries.

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