• Through an analysis of two post-crisis films (Estrellas, Federico León
    and Marcos Martínez, 2007; El nexo, Sebastián Antico, 2005) shot in
    the largest slum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this essay sketches the
    terms for conceptualizing a cultural dimension of the Global South
    marked by the aesthetic reappropriation of poverty. Working against
    what has been called Latin America’s persistent “melodrama of poverty,”
    and avoiding the type of cinematic representation that depicts
    the slum in terms of violence and uncertainty, the directors of these
    films highlight the fact that the reappropriation of poverty is often at
    the base of alternative forms of social and artistic agency. While the
    ability to work under conditions of material lack has long been an
    important dimension of Argentine artistic production, their films
    flaunt deprivation in order to transform precarity into an ideological
    and aesthetic weapon, re-staging social inequality in a spectacular
    fashion and advancing inventive modes of action. In this way, they
    argue that “making do” can also become the basis for an alternative
    creative paradigm. In their exploration of this paradigm, which allows
    slum inhabitants to build a house in two minutes and create a
    spaceship out of junk, both films pose far-reaching questions: who
    has a right to perform? What roles are available for the people of the
    slum? And, what are the conditions for having artistic and social
    agency in economically deprived areas?