Buenos Aires across the Arts is a marvelous book. It succeeds in being both rigorously erudite and theoretically adventurous. Eleni Kefala ties together people, moments, works, and ideas with great skill and elegant style. I have read few books which offered so much fresh thinking on the relationships between cultural expression and urban form.
By 1920 Buenos Aires was the largest and most cosmopolitan city of Latin America due to mass immigration from Europe in the previous decades. Unbridled urban expansion had drastic effects on the social and cultural topography of the Argentine capital, raising ideological and aesthetic issues that shaped the modernist landscape of the country. Artists across disciplines responded to these changes with conflicting depictions of urban space. Centering these conflicts as a cognitive map of modernity’s new realities in the city, Buenos Aires across the Arts looks at the interaction between modernity and modernism in literature, photography, film, and painting during the interwar period. This was a time of profound change and heightened cultural activity in Argentina. Eleni Kefala analyzes works by Jorge Luis Borges, Oliverio Girondo, José Ferreyra, Xul Solar, Roberto Arlt, and Horacio Coppola, with a focus on the city of Buenos Aires as a playground of modernity.
Eleni Kefala is senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews. Her work explores modernity across different periods and cultures from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. She is the author of The Conquered: Byzantium and America on the Cusp of Modernity and Peripheral (Post) Modernity: The Syncretist Aesthetics of Borges, Piglia, Kalokyris, and Kyriakidis, and editor of Negotiating Difference in the Hispanic World: From Conquest to Globalisation.