Visible Evidence XXIII – Bozeman, Montana, August 2016
Argentine Documentary Film: On National Identity Construction and the Politics of Representation
This panel reviews contemporary documentary Argentine practices that are located in-between filmmaking, ethnography, and the Arts. In so doing, it aims to examine key aspects of current Argentine documentaries -- particularly productions that analyse and challenge collective memory and official history -- which constitute primary concerns in the local public arena related to the aftermath of the last dictatorship (1976-1983) and the politics of memory under the Kirchnerist era (2003-2015). Accordingly, we are interested in how the role of archives, museums and the personal and the collective memories and identities are thought of and constructed in connection to national imaginaries and historical moments. We pay particular attention to the multimedia productions of the exESMA’s site of memory, Alejandro Fernández Mouján's Damiana Kryygi (2015) and Javier Olivera’s La Sombra (2015).
Moreover, the panel intends to motivate, as well, general discussions of contemporary documentary filmmaking in Argentina, which we believe would be a perfect stepping-stone to introduce some key topics that will be further developed in Visible Evidence XXIV, to be held in Buenos Aires (Argentina), August 2017.
· Christopher D. Moore
Ph.D. Candidate, Indiana University
Documentary Filmmaker, Sol Productions
Research Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, Human Studies Film Archives
Christopher Moore is a documentary filmmaker and a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, Bloomington. In his dissertation, “Argentine Documentary Film and the Politics of Presence,” Chris seeks to further contextualize the relationship between documentary film and trans/national politics during Argentina’s tumultuous twentieth century. Currently, Chris serves as a research fellow with the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Studies Film Archives.
Presenters and paper-presentations proposals:
· Kristi Wilson
Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Soka University of America
Archiving Terror in 2015: Truth, Visuality, and use of film and video in the exESMA Center of Torture and Detention.
This paper looks at the use of documentary film, found footage, and video installation in one of the most famous of many museums and spaces of memory created in former centers of detention, torture and disappearance in Latin America. While the exESMA (former naval base) now houses a variety of institutions dedicated to memory and activism, the recently inaugurated (2015) "Officers Club" museum is arguably the most important as this large building once housed prisoners whose bodies were tortured and disappeared. The museum can be understood through the lens of a Benjaminian "pioneer" mode of collecting, as the only items on display are the empty spaces of terror and torture. The 'objects' collected are not objects or artefacts, but memories, preserved spaces and testimonies that acknowledge the identities of survivors and the disappeared. Multimedia strategies of representation fill the spaces. A sophisticated use of audio-visual materials makes an argument that the ongoing forensic work, testimonies, grassroots activism, and prosecutions of crimes against humanity form a new archive that temporarily stands in for information about lives that disappeared into the void of military secrecy. This paper explores the museal use of film and video toward a politics of truth in visuality that works against and reframes a history of silence through impunity, thus participating in an ongoing process of accountability taking place across Argentina.
Andermann, Jens. 2007. The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and
Brasil. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press,
Avelar, Idelbar. 1999. The Untimely Present: Postdictatorial Latin American Fiction and the
Task of Mourning. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Bilbija, Ksenija and Leigh A. Payne. 2011. Accounting for Violence: Marketing Memory in
Latin America: The Cultures and Practice of Violence. Durham and London: Duke
Dinges, John. 2005. The Condor Years: How Pinochet and his Allies Brought Terrorism to
Three Continents. New York: The New Press.
Druliolle, Vincent and Francesca Lessa. 2011. The Memory of State Terrorism in the
Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kristi M. Wilson is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Humanities at Soka University of America. Her research and teaching interests include classics, film studies, gender studies, cultural studies and rhetoric. Dr. Wilson is the coeditor of Italian Neorealism and Global Cinema (2007), Film and Genocide (2011), and Political Documentary Cinema in Latin America (2014), and author of numerous publications in such journals as Screen, Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, Signs, and Literature/Film Quarterly. She also serves on the editorial board and is a film review editor at Latin American Perspectives (SAGE Publications).
· Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli
Visiting Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies
Soka University of America (USA)
Unearthing cruelty: repatriation and burial of an Ache in Fernández Mouján's Damiana Kryygi (2015)
This paper explores the role of forensic science in the appropriation of indigenous bodies, and turn-of-the-century identity construction in Alejandro Fernández Mouján's documentary, Damiana Kryygi (2015). The film partially recreates the life of an Aché indigenous woman who was abducted by colonists after a massacre in Paraguay. She was then taken to the Museum of Natural Science of La Plata as an object of study. More than a century later, her remains were found in the Museum and repatriated to Aché territory as a result of the efforts of her community. Throughout the film, Mouján remains sensitive to the politics and ethics of Damiana's representation; appearing on camera just enough to reassure audiences that he is committed to documenting her repatriation and unearthing the cruelty of her treatment, which included photographing her body without clothes and her institutionalization on the basis of an "alarming sex drive." This presentation will consider the role of documentary film as a critique of ethnographic practices as they are applied to 1) nation state building and 2) the appropriation of indigenous bodies. I will draw from the work of Hegel, Adorno, and Hyppolite to examine Moujan’s voice-over meditations on the failures of the photographic image.
Arens, R. (1976). Genocide in Paraguay. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Hill, K., & Hurtado M. (1996). Ache Life History: The Ecology and Demography of a
Foraging People. New York: Aldine De Gruyter.
Prelorán, Jorge. (2006). El cine etnográfico. Buenos Aires: Catálogos, 2006.
Renov, Michael. (2004). The Subject of Documentary. Minneapolis: University of
Taylor, L. (Ed.). (1994). Visualizing Theory: Selected Essays from V.A.R. 1990-1994. New
· Clara Garavelli
Lecturer in Latin American Studies
University of Leicester (UK)
Exploring Thyself In-Between Video Art and Documentary Film: The Case of Javier Olivera’s La Sombra [The Shadow] (2015)
When analysing the interconnections between Art and documentary, both Gail Pearce and Cahal McLaughlin (2007) have stated that, although artists using moving images to explore ‘documentary’ themes, and documentary makers experimenting with form, content and exhibition modes, have brought the two disciplines closer together, their respective worlds still remain quite hermetic. In context of such observations, the aim of this paper is to examine how dialogue between experimental video and documentary film informs explorations of the personal and the collective in Javier Olivera’s La Sombra (2015). In the film under review, Olivera erases those boundaries in an act of exorcism intended to release himself from his father’s influence. The director, son of the renowned cinema tycoon Héctor Olivera, haunted by his father cinematographic past, at first moved away from filmmaking and into the Art world. His experimentations with video art allowed him to find his own voice and brought him back to cinema with a renewed position. Now an established filmmaker, in La Sombra he records in video the destruction of the suburban mansion that epitomised the success his father – regarded as one of the biggest Argentine film producers – and filmmakers – of the 1960s-1980s. Herein, long takes of cranes and rubble are interwoven with Super 8 sequences that take us back to the glorious past lived within those walls. Olivera thus faces his own demons as ‘the son of’, exploring his identity construction through a process of negotiation of different media and audio-visual traditions, in what becomes an exploration not only of a personal history, but also of the official history of Argentine film.
- Lebow, Alisa (2012). The Cinema of Me. The Self and Subjectivity in First Person Documentary, London & New York: Wallflower Press.
- Macdonald, Scott (2015). Intersections of Documentary & Avant-Garde Cinema, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.
- Pearce, Gail & McLaughlin, Cahal (eds.) (2007). Truth or Dare: Art and Documentary, Bristol & Chicago: Intellect.
- Piedras, Pablo (2014). El cine documental en primera persona, Buenos Aires: Paidós.
- Torreiro, Casimiro & Cerdán, Josetxo (eds.) (2005). Documental y vanguardia, Madrid: Cátedra.
Clara Garavelli is Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Leicester (UK); editorial board member of Secuencias. Revista de Historia del Cine; author of the book Video Experimental Argentino Contemporáneo (2014); co-editor of Poéticas del movimiento: Aproximaciones al cine y video experimental argentino (2015) and co-author of collective works such as The Cinema of the Swimming Pool (2014) and Directory of World Cinema: Argentina (2014). She worked as Jury member of the International Festival of Video Art (FIVA, Argentina) and curated several video and film exhibitions.