• "Biutiful" by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bó Jr., & Nicolás Giacobone
    "Biutiful" by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bó Jr., & Nicolás Giacobone
The Representations Lecture Series welcomes Professor of Spanish Dr. Catherine B. Ross to present on the movie Biutiful.

The Sarofim School of Fine Arts is pleased to present Representations, a brown bag lecture series that features current and upcoming research by Southwestern University faculty whose focus is on representations in art and culture. The lectures are short conference-style papers followed by questions, and they are to serve as a model for students on how to conduct formal presentations in their respective fields.

Dr. Catherine B. Ross’ Abstract:

     While most studies of Biutiful (2010), directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, have focused on the use of Barcelona and the portrayal of immigrants, this study focuses on the representation of motherhood within the urban space of Barcelona in the film. The places the women in the film occupy reinforce Doreen Massey’s idea that the “gendering of space and place both reflects and has effects back on the ways in which gender is constructed and understood in the societies in which we live” (129). While the main character Uxbal is frequently portrayed outside with the Barcelona cityscape behind him, the women in the film are more frequently seen inside of buildings, carrying on traditional women’s chores, such as childcare and cooking. This portrayal of women as those who work inside reinforces the idea that women inhabit the domestic sphere while men are free to roam outside, their work interpreted as part of the public domain.

     Biutiful presents three mother figures who live and work in Barcelona: Marambra, the bipolar, inept Spanish mother; Igé, the Senegalese single mother; and Lili, the overworked, single Chinese mother. Through these different representations of maternal identity, the film suggests that motherhood is in transition, relying less on genetics and more on propensity. The depiction of a variety of mother characters, as showcased in Iñárritu’s film, composes an understanding of a shift in the representation of maternal identity. Through his use of lighting, costumes and setting, Iñárritu portrays mothers as women who provide care to children but who do so from outside of the traditional family structure while still inhabiting the traditional domestic space of women. Through the combination of the urban spaces shown and the gendered spaces the characters inhabit, this film problematizes the position of mother in the cultural context of 21st century Spain.


The Representations Lecture Series is free and open to the public.