The transnational media practice of Mexican fronterizo empresarios Félix Padilla (1862 -1937) and Edmundo Padilla (1903-1984) of the El Paso-Juárez border region is my case study for unpacking practices of retrieving the past that compete, and often intersect, under the banners conventionally called “history” and “heritage.” This case study also allows us to explore the concepts of the border , the borderless, and the in between broadly construed. The Padilla Collection of audio - visual artifacts presents a unique case and challenge for film preservation since it defies the category of a single nation and unique origins.
The Padillas based in El Paso, Texas (USA) and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (Mexico) were traveling showmen who exhibited and promoted intermedial motion picture and recorded sound presentations along the U.S. – Mexican border between 1925 and 1937. But the Padillas’ also were film producers, and drew inspiration and ideas for their films, promotional advertising, and performances, from the local Mexican-American cultural milieu and revolutionary setting. Pancho Villa was their favorite subject. Their bi-national, home-grown, and non-industrialized enterprise was based on a heterogeneous method of production and presentation that I argue is best understood as bricolage, that is, “tinkering” or the bringing together of bits and pieces of known techniques and materials to produce a new construction. In taking up the Padillas for my case study, I address underlying ideological, philosophical, aesthetic, and nationalist discourses that inform and shape cinema studies scholarship, as well as film preservation.
Contemporary media scholarship has brought particular attention to borders. But borders are not only geographical. I deploy the term border metaphorically and adopt historian A. I. Asiwaju’s concept of artificial boundaries to address three borders. The first border is the revolutionary and post-revolutionary U.S.-Mexico border and setting of the Padillas’ screen practice. The second border is the bifurcation between the disciplines of cinema studies and professional film archiving, and which calls attention to different approaches and interpretations of preserved artifacts, such as the Padillas Collection. Preservation links the third border and competing and interstitial practices of history and heritage. An example of both cultural heterogeneity and the heterogeneity of the film medium itself, the Padilla’s practice calls for rethinking the notion of the cinema as bricolage .
|Commitee:||Gledhill, Christine, McCarthy, Anna, Simon, Bill, Yumibe, Joshua|
|School:||New York University|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Latin American history, Mass communications, Film studies|
|Keywords:||Border(s)/ consumer culture, Film preservation, Latin American history, Mexican- American cinema, Motion pictures/cinema studies, Performance studies/recordings|
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