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  • Medianeras/Sidewalls:A Film by Gustavo Taretto
  • Daniel Meridor (bio)

Mariana and Martin live in Buenos Aires, two buildings apart (unbeknownst to each other). Both find themselves searching for human interaction after having deprived themselves of it for a long time. Mariana works as a window display designer, has a phobia of elevators, and becomes involved with a mannequin she is using for one of her projects. Her hope is that people looking at her windows will eventually interact with her inner world.

Martin tries to cope with his anxiety attacks by secluding himself for a few years in his 400-square-foot shoebox apartment after furrowing himself in the virtual world of gaming and web design. On advice from his psychiatrist, he packs an urban survival backpack and sets out to rediscover the beauty of the city he's never left by walking and photographing.

The lack of human friction and interaction in the city is the way Medianeras/Sidewalls (Gustavo Taretto, AR/ES/DE, 2011) portrays the living conditions in contemporary Buenos Aires. Surfaces, planes, and walls formulate the city section—a city of physical separations between people. Throughout the film, this section is destabilized by framing and exposing varying degrees of permeability of sound, touch, and light through the city's skins, which react in tandem with the characters' resistance to their secluded condition. The camera first focuses on the opaque, impenetrable, and distorting nature of surfaces—mirrored in gloves, bubble wrap, video games, pills, swimming lane lines, and computer screens.

Then, panning in on the semi-porous nature of reflective and transparent surfaces, evoking Lee Friedlander's urban landscape of superimpositions, objects and figures bleed into one another and the foreground and background of the [End Page 98] cinematic frame. They reverberate and project expanding planes into semi-virtual spaces (Figure 1). From here, the camera captures cracked walls, with cavities that make space for unexpected penetrations like the wild weeds that grow in them. It freezes when the sidewalls are pierced to create illegal windows, visually bridging the gap between the characters, the narratives, and the city.


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Figure 1.

Frame from Medianeras/Sidewalls, Gustavo Taretto (left) and Lee Friedlander's New York 1963 (right). The camera focuses on the semi-porous nature of reflective and transparent surfaces, where objects and figures bleed into one another and into the foreground and background of the cinematic frame.

Even when there is no clear physical separation within the captured cinematography, the director continues to find it by framing a reoccurring composition: the camera is static, capturing vertical objects such as columns, fountains, trees, lampposts, etc., and placing them strategically at the center of the frame. They act as dividers for the figures that move and interact within these seemingly separate spaces. This sets the streetscape to a staccato rhythm of potentially secluded spaces.

This approach to the composition of the frame recalls Albrecht Dürer's 1504


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Figure 2.

Frame from Medianeras/Sidewalls, Gustavo Taretto (left), Albrecht Dürer's Adam and Eve, 1504 (center), Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden, 1507 (right). In Adam and Eve of 1504, a discontinuity in space and narrative is implicit in the presence of the tree between them, where in 1507 Dürer detaches the figures by painting them onto two separate panels.

[End Page 99]


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Figure 3.

Frame from Medianeras/Sidewalls, Gustavo Taretto. The space in-between the center of the composition is left empty. The primary recognition is a collapse of the narrative into the charged space.

engraving of Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden (Figure 2), which expresses a discontinuity in space and narrative when he places a tree between them.

Even further, when revisiting this scene in 1507, Dürer physically detaches the figures by painting them onto two separate panels (Figure 2).1

The dissonance between the flattened, two-dimensional image and the unfolded, three-dimensional space in the composition of Sidewalls is similar to an architectural section drawing, where a notation could either represent an object in space or a plane extended...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-7989
Print ISSN
0306-7661
Pages
pp. 98-101
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-23
Open Access
No
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