Jordana S. Mendelson
CONTESTED USES OF MASS MEDIA IN SPAIN, 1929-1939
During her Center appointment, Professor Mendelson will complete a project addressing definitions of modernity through the lens of Spanish culture and politics during the turbulent decade of the 1930s. Taking as her case studies some of the most recognized artists and events of the early twentieth century, including such artists as Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí and such events as the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona and the 1937 International Exposition in Paris, she examines the critical role that artists played in negotiating the nation’s dual fascination with rural culture and technology. Because these negotiations took place visually through the media of photography and film, one of the goals of her project is to assess the function of documentary in understanding the relationship between institutional and avant-garde practices in ethnography, culture, and politics. Rather than understanding modern artists as artistically and politically distanced from the local concerns of nationalism, she demonstrates that some of their most provocative and difficult works were meditations on the complexities and contradictions of modernity itself.