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Life Writing ISSN: 1448-4528 (Print) 1751-2964 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlwr20 Archival

Life Writing

Life Writing ISSN: 1448-4528 (Print) 1751-2964 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlwr20 Archival

ISSN: 1448-4528 (Print) 1751-2964 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlwr20

Archival Autofiction in Post-Dictatorship Argentina

Anna Forné

To cite this article: Anna Forné (2019): Archival Autofiction in Post-Dictatorship Argentina, Life Writing

this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2019.1642174 © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited,

© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Published online: 22 Jul 2019.  

Published online: 22 Jul 2019.

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LIFE WRITING https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2019.1642174
LIFE WRITING https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2019.1642174
LIFE WRITING https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2019.1642174 Archival Auto fi ction in Post-Dictatorship Argentina Anna

Archival Auto ction in Post-Dictatorship Argentina

Anna Forné

Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden



This article explores the incorporation and representation of archival material in autoctional narratives in Argentinian literature produced during the last 15 years by children of the disappeared during the last dictatorship (1976 1983). The purpose is to examine the forms and functions of materiality in the artistic mediation of memories in what I conceptualise as archival autoction. This notion comprehends an artistic expression in which the authorial subject identical to the protagonist exhibits the creative processes of archival recycling and reects on notions of authorship as a way of engaging the reader. I speci cally put the focus on auto ctional narratives because the tensions created in this kind of texts between the materiality of the past and the present textual con guration of the authorial subjectivity raise key questions on the relationship between subjects and objects in relation to the works of subjective memory.

raise key questions on the relationship between subjects and objects in relation to the works of
raise key questions on the relationship between subjects and objects in relation to the works of


Memory; autoction; archive; Argentina; post-dictatorship


This article explores the incorporation and representation of archival material in autoc- tional narratives in Argentinian literature produced during the last 15 years by children of the disappeared during the last dictatorship (19761983). There has been a continuous practice among this group of artists, in literature as well as in lm, theatre, performance and visual arts, to work with documentary materials and other objects of the past in an auto ctional mode. Jordana Blejmar, among others, 1 has previously highlighted this gen- ealogy and in Playful memories: The Autoctional Turn in Post-Dictatorship Argentina she asserts that these pioneering practitioners [] share similar aesthetic choices(2016, 3). In this regard Blejmar points out that:

Indeed, the photographic montages, semiautobiographical novels, subjective documentaries, testimonial artworks, blogs and biodramas by the post-dictatorship generation are character- ized both by the use of humor and by an original interplay between imaginative investments of the past, the ctionalization of the self, visual collages and artistic modi cations of docu- mentary archives. ( 2016, 4)

While the focus of Blejmar is auto ction and what she calls a playful aesthetics, the purpose of this article is to examine the forms and functions of materiality in the artistic

CONTACT Anna Forné

of materiality in the artistic CONTACT Anna Forné anna.forne@sprak.gu.se © 2019 The Author(s). Published by

© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ ), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


2 A. FORNÉ mediation of memories in what I conceptualise as archival auto fi ction .


mediation of memories in what I conceptualise as archival auto ction. This notion com- prehends an artistic expression in which the authorial subjectidentical to the protagonist exhibits the creative processes of archival recycling and reects on notions of authorship as a way of engaging the reader. I specically put the focus on auto ctional narratives because the tensions created in this kind of texts between the materiality of the past and the present textual conguration of the authorial subjectivity raise key questions on the relationship between subjects and objects in relation to the works of subjective memory. The guiding hypothesis is that archival auto ction operates in two complementary direc- tions. On the one hand, this kind of artistic practice plays with the documentary authority of the archive and the authenticity of tangible objects, a modus operandi which bring into question how to approach narratives in which the subject interacts with and even changes places with the exposed material traces and objects. On the other hand, archival autoc- tion s transparent self-reexive mode as well as its recyclive practices, which privilege frag- mentation and repetition, poses the reader as participant, invited to reconstruct what has been dismantled and to make sense. This perspective involves a problematisation of the possible agency of objects in relation to that of the subject, signicant for rethinking the role of materiality in memory practices (Munteán, Plate, and Smelik 2017, 13). Despite the well-known connections of memory and materiality (Prousts madeleine) in the eld of cultural memory studies, to date the material dimension of memory work is an underexplored area. This same observation can be made with respect to the eld of life writing, in which not much attention has been given to what Sheringham calls the hiatus between the materials of the past and the present act of manipulation( 2005, 53). In the recent works on the artistic practices of the children of the disappeared in Argentina there are still, to my knowledge, no studies concerned with a how materiality contributes to the formation of subjectivity departing from the idea of an archival impulse.

Mutual projections

In her account of autobiographical writings in relation to posthumanism, Kari Weil poses the question: With agency cut loose from its traditional humanist orbitand the self ani- mated and perforated by the material world of which it is inseparable, what becomes of self-representation?(2017 , 88). A main objective of this article is to look into the changing relationship between subjects and objects and its implications for archival autoctional practices, an approach which connects to the contemporary epistemological discussion on how to conceptualise subjectivity in relation to new materialism. Autoction is a genre inscribed in the epistemological parameters of the poststructuralist subjective turn , challenged by posthumanist theory. Stefan Herbrechter and Ivan Callus suggest that inevitably new conceptions of subjectivity will come out of the speci cities of the present, but underscore that this does not necessarily imply an epistemological break with humanism:

Attempts at reinscription and re-application of concepts and terms which have served us well in the past including subjectivity are a ected, and rigour demands that they allow them- selves to be read back by the current realities that they attempt to read. ( 2012 , 242)

In a similar vein, Barbara Bolt maintains that it is unconceivable to invalidate the insights of the cultural turn, and suggests an understanding of the subjectivity of new materialism


LIFE WRITING 3 as a material-semiotic actor (Barrett and Bolt 2013 , 3, 7). And likewise,


as a material-semiotic actor (Barrett and Bolt 2013 , 3, 7). And likewise, according to Andreas Huyssen, interactions between subjects and objects in memory practices provoke mutual projections:

[M]emory in and of objects is always based on a reciprocal interchange between self and object world, a ective human perception, and the thing in question. But neither can the memories triggered by objects merely be seen as re ecting a subjective projection. Both sub- jects and objects project, and the projection of the object into the subject is tied to the object s very materiality, which in turn allows for the projections generated by the subject. (2016 , 108)

As Derrida states in his foundational work on the archive, access to it, its constitution, and its interpretation is a question of power ( 1996, 4, 1617), and more recently in relation to cultural memory, Aleida Assman stresses the constructed character of the archive and the dynamics of power involved. Assman suggests that contemporary self-reexive memory art practices turn to the archive not to store it, but to use it as an index, a refer- ence to a human depot of su eringthat is retranslated into communication(2011, 13). This performative use of the archive, and more precisely of photographs, is evoked by Marianne Hirsch in her inuential conceptualisation of postmemory. Hirsch suggests that in postmemorial practices, indexicality is performative and not factual or referential,

because it is created in relation to the needs and desires of the spectator: the index of post- memory (as opposed to memory) is the performative index, shaped more and more by

a ect, need, and desire as time and distance attenuate the links to authenticity and

truth ”’ (2008 , 61). According to Hirsch, the photos of the past only conserve an aura of indexicality because postmemory shifts in-between the pre-formed repertoires of cul- tural memory and the performativity specic to postmemory. That is, postmemory explores the symbolic dimensions of material traces in order to project superimposed and coexisting meanings that revise the emblematic narratives of memory. Repurposing of archival material in lm and literature is not a new artistic practice. However, the examples of incorporation and representation of archival materialmore speci cally photographs explored in this article have in common the production of a critical discourse beyond mere reproduction. It is the narration in-between subject and object which urges the reader to take an active role in the process of decodication and construction of new meanings carried out by the author, who is represented at the same time as created in relation to materiality. The materiality of memory refers to the incorporation and use of archival material and objects in artistic practices, which in turn conditions the construction as well as the reception of the text, for as Hal Foster suggests, the fragmentary materiality of the archive makes it call out for human interpret- ation … ’ (2004, 5). That is, when the reproduced materials are inserted in new contexts, they activate new senses by generating something unprecedented in relation to conven- tional practices and repertoires. In An Archival ImpulseHal Foster sets forth (referring to contemporary art) that:

Finally, the work in question is archival since it not only draws on informal archives but pro- duces them as well, and does so in a way that underscores the nature of all archival materials as found yet constructed, factual yet ctive, public yet private. Further, it often arranges these materials according to a quasi-archival logic, a matrix of citation and juxtaposition, and pre- sents them in a quasi-archival architecture, a complex of texts and objects . ( 2004 , 5)


4 A. FORNÉ In a similar way, auto fi ctional narratives — both in literature and


In a similar way, autoctional narrativesboth in literature and lmcall attention to the constructed nature of the subject, as well as of the material with which the self is con- gured. In this way, autoctional texts call for an active reader, who is attentive to the mech- anisms of story construction. In this regard, Patricia López-Gay talks about a compulsive aestetisation of the traces, and drawing on Derridas Archive Fever she suggests that this artistic practice comes about as a way for the archival-I to take possession of, control and organise the archive ( 2017, 242). In the works analysed below, the gure of the archive primarily refers to the concrete materiality of its elements, which by means of artistic practice acquire new meanings and open up for a critical discourse. In this regard, archival autoction can be thought of as a narrative of return and rewriting in which the gure of the author-protagonist is con - gured in-between the material traces of the past and the artistic practices of the present. Hal Foster famously argued, in the eld of arts, that archival artists try to physically restore historical information, and in some cases the found traces and objects belong to popular culture, and in other cases they are obscure, retrieved in a gesture of alternative knowledge or counter-memory (2004 , 4). I would argue that the artistic series concerning us here move in between the familiar and the obscure, and that the retrieval of supposedly trivial objects of childhood can show to have important counter-memorial implications, as for example in Marta Dillons novel Aparecida [Appeared] or in Albertina Carris autoc- tional docuction Los Rubios [The Blonds]. 2 In this article, I will look into three literary examples of what I conceptualise as archival auto ction, with a special focus on the incorporation and representation of photography in these works: Pozo de aire [Well of Air] by Guadalupe Gaona (2009), Otras fotos de mamá [Other Photos of My Mother] (2007) by Félix Bruzzone, and nally Diario de una princesa montonera [Diary of a Montonero Princess] (2012) by Mariana Eva Pérez. 3 The rst example is a cross-generic book which combines photography and poetry, the second one is a short story in a collection entitled 76 and, nally, Pérezs work is a blog turned into novel. What these three pieces have in common is that the authors are all children of disappeared and in all three examples, the authorial subject tries to reconstruct part of his or her memories departing from a photograph, which also is the archival strategy I will focus on in what follows. Finally, the three examples can be dened as autoctional, with a greater or lesser extent of self-reexivity. In all three examples the real author engen- ders some kind of ctional double by means of archival practices.

The rst and only picture

The disappearance of people without a trace epitomises the elaborate cruelty of military repression in Argentina during the last dictatorship (19761983). Still today Argentine families continue to search for the remains of their relatives as well as for the estimated 500 children born in detention given new names and identities by the military. These events of the past are very present in todays Argentine, where the trials of the military continue and the grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo still look for and are reunited with their illegally adopted grandchildren. In a press conference in 1979 Rafael Videla, dictator in power between 1976 and 1981, stated that: But while he is disappeared he cannot have any special treatment, he is an


LIFE WRITING 5 unknown person, he is a disappeared person, he has no entity, he is


unknown person, he is a disappeared person, he has no entity, he is not dead or alive, he is missing. 4 With this declaration in mind, Argentine writer and researcher Martín Kohan suggests that the political pretension in the seventies to create an everlasting inex- istence was soon overthrown and disappearance was turned into a unique form of exist- ence that has endured into present times, that of the disappeared (2018 , 71). This semantic shift is paramount in the oxymoronic title of Lucila Quietos paradigmatic work with photography called Arqueology of absence. 5 What is at stake here is an arche- ology of absence which discloses not only as a search for the traces of the disappeared, carried out in the personal and public archives, but also a present conguration of that loss. The lack of pictures from the clandestine detentions centres makes impossible the invocation of the Barthesian this has beenbut, as Kohan states, this does not imply that it is necessary to surrender, just like that, to the conclusiveness of the unimaginable, which is that of the unspeakable, which is that of the inenarrable(2018 , 73). 6 However, Kohan underlines, when it comes to the disappeared in Argentina we are not dealing with the images in spite of allof which Didi-Huberman talks and which work by means of an oversaturation of corporality. Instead, in the Argentinian case it is a subtraction of bodies in a limbo between the living and the dead ( 2018, 74). It is in this indeterminate midpoint where archival autoction tries to restore history and bring it into the present by means of found traces and objects. Every so often, the archi- val objects are photographs from the past and it is mainly the second generation, that is, the children of the disappeared and likewise the siblings or contemporaries of the robbed babies that turn to archival materials in order to reconstruct the story of their parents, which is also their own story of loss. In Pozo de aire, Guadalupe Gaona sketches memories of her childhood through an assemblage of photographs and short narrative poems. What at a rst sight seems to be landscapes photos from the south of Argentina and pictures from a family album, accompanied by brief poetic re ections, soon reveals a more sinister facet when we read the prologue of this beautiful edition of what seems to be a coee table book:

I stand in the bow of the boat with scant balance, my dad in the island, a conquistador in swimming suit, gives me his hand. My mom runs to fetch the camera. Click. This is going to be the only picture Im going to have of my dad and I alone. Winter arrives quicker than was expected -and takes everything. On March 21st of 1977, my dad goes missing but that picture remains. And there were many times I went through my mother s sleeping table draw to look at it. It is the image I trust the most. (2009 , n.p.) 7

Pozo de aire consist of a series of brief poems on everyday objects and events, interspersed with photos of the Patagonian landscape and some family portraits accompanied by lost words clear of signicance, 8 as described by the poetic voice, to tell a story of absences and presences. In her review of the book, Mariana Enríquez highlights the strangeness of Gaonas work, at the same time that she inserts it into the genealogy of second-generation artists in Argentina. In the article Enríquez quotes Gaona, who says that when Pozo de aire was created, she was connected to the works of Albertina Carri, Nicolás Prividera, Lola Arias, the stories of Félix Bruzzone … ’ and also that:

There is a very strong epicenter that is the disappearance of my dad. It is a starting point that later resigni es everything. But I tried not to saturate that topic: it is very complicated to face


6 A. FORNÉ it in an artistic project, and more if it is biographical. For me,


it in an artistic project, and more if it is biographical. For me, the book is something else, but that is so strong that it ends up going through everything. ( 2009 , n.p.)

The few critical readings of Pozo de aire available approach Gaonas photo-poems on the basis of the classic texts of Marianne Hirsch on the family album and postmemory as well as the interventions of Argentine cultural critic Beatriz Sarlo ( 2005) on the subjective turn of memory, or departing from the contemplations on photography by Walter Benjamin and Georges Didi-Huberman. According to these lines of re ection, the artists of the second generation appropriate the visual supports to denounce and make visible absence. In this regard, Natalia Fortuny suggests that the pictures of empty landscapes taken by Gaona in the present are an attempt of a repetitive reinstatement of the scenes of the past, as well as a way of creating the photos missing in the family album as conse- quence of the disappearance of her father: Using family photos she attempts to rebuild the picture missing in the album. The artist makes evident, thorough new photographs, the emptiness of the absence, the family breakdown and the emotional hole left by the disap- pearance of her father(2013 , 107). This brings to mind the projections carried out by Lucila Quieto in Arqueología de la ausencia ( 2011). However, in the photographs of Gaona no remaking of the portrait of her father takes places, only of the landscapes and sites of her childhood vacations. In this regard, Fortuny and Blejmar propose that Gaona searches for memory in the landscapes that her father had contemplated before dis- appearing, reiterating in the present a visual eld of the past, that is, the gaze of the lost parent. 9 According to this reading, the temporal dissociation of the photos and the gaze recalls and replicates the absence of the disappeared, at the same time as trying to diminish it. Drawing on Didi-Hubermans deliberations on the anachronic, Blejmar and Fortuny suggest that this peculiar distance enables the encounter between the two gazes and tem- poralities, that is, of present and past ( 2011, 216217). This refusal to repeat and cite the portraits of the past, included in the book, suggest an archival practice which rejects the possibility of an oneiric and ctional third moment invoked and invented for example by Quieto in her photomontages where temporalities meet, making possible an encounter (Amado 2004, 55). In most part of Pozo de aire, words do not support the images, that is, they do not reinforce the content, but rather create uncertainty because what we read and what we see do not correspond. Indeed, the description of the only photo that Gaona has with her father, which is the vertebral image of the small poetic anecdotes told in Pozo de aire, is the only example when the words sustain the image in a referential and immediate way. For the rest, the poems do not translate the images in the sense that they do not con rm and intensify the content of the photographs, but on the contrary, the relations between word and image produce indetermination and a sense of confusion. All the photos of the summer house that appear in Pozo de aire show it from the outside, in the distance. Only in two of the images of the house appear people, in the rst one the camera observes from a distant position and the observer only sees the silhouettes of two people interacting inside the house. This image is in colour and its dissolution and colouration makes us think that it is one of the photos taken by the artist in the present, at the moment of returning to the place where in her childhood the rst and only photo with her father was taken. The second image in which people appear is a typical family album photo, with the appearance of a polaroid snapshot taken just


LIFE WRITING 7 before leaving, to return to the city once the holidays are over. The


before leaving, to return to the city once the holidays are over. The house is the same as in the rst picture, only nature is a little dierent and with time also the composition of the family. The succession of the pictures is hypothetically chronologically reversed, showing the present before revealing the lost past, with family members happily posing in the grass outside the house. In this regard, the photographs in Pozo de aire ask to be read in series according to a sequential archival logic, despite being inserted accidentally in the book and without legends. It also the spatio-temporal disconnection between the dierent parts of the material gathered by Gaona that makes the unattended receiver become a committed interpreter, like an archivist dedicated to reordering the scattered materials. The arrange- ment of the images of Pozo de aire is unpredictable and incoherent and, in that way, it does not enable an immediate decoding. On the contrary, its unnished and fragmentary struc- ture requires the active intervention of the reader who is asked to make sense of interrup- tions and disconnections between the materials of the past and the present act of manipulation. The possible critical potential of archival autoction lays in its exposure of the mechanisms of remediation, a practice that interpellates the reader to participate actively in the artistic reconstruction of the archive. If it wasnt for the short testimonial anecdote included in the rst pages of the book, Gaonas work could be read along the lines of the recycling of found photographs in contemporary art, which normally inter- rupts the closed system of autoreferentiality between producer and consumer, as a conse- quence of the anonymity of the material as well as the erasure of the original context (Fontcuberta 2017 , 149). However, in the artistic series of the children of the disappeared that concern us here, the aesthetic eect, that is also highly political, is grounded in a strong a rmation of referentiality as well as of the context of production as well as recep- tion and in this case: The poetic eects of the found photos are staggered according to the degree to which the content and the history concerns the observer(Fontcuberta 2017, 141). 10 In the introductory pages of La furia de las imágenes [The Fury of the Images] Joan Fontcubierta states that if in the past, photography was tautologically linked to memory and truth, postphotography breaks those ties ( 2017, 15). In this way, the usual sociological use of the photograph of the family album changes. This, however, does not seem to be what happens in Pozo de aire, a work of art that despite its strangeness and narrative interruptions relies on the personal archive as an authority. In this case, despite its invocation to the reader/observer to rearrange the dispersed archival materials, it does not seem to exploit archival arts potential to fragment or destabilize either remem- brance as recorded, or history as written, as sucient means of providing the last word in the account of what has come to pass(Merewether 2006, 10). In this regard, not only an encounter between temporalities is problematic and contradictory, as Blejmar and Fortuny suggest, but also a renewed perception of the past in the present seems unfeasible. The perception of the photograph so many times looked at in the drawer of her mothers bedside table is unaltered, despite its relocation in the poetic archive of the present. Poss- ibly this is an example of the compulsive aesthetisation of the traces Patricia López-Gay mentions, which is as a way for the archival-I to manage and rearrange the archive ( 2017, 242). In Félix Bruzzones short story Otras fotos de mamá [Other Photos of My Mother] there are no actual photos reproduced in the book. The story gravitates around the lack of infor- mation on what happened to the nameless narrator and protagonists mother, when and where she was disappeared and whether it is possible to gather more information about


8 A. FORNÉ her. The story starts with the narrator and protagonist telling that last Saturday


her. The story starts with the narrator and protagonist telling that last Saturday he got to know Roberto, a former boyfriend of his mother who got out of the country right before she was disappeared. At Robertos house he is showed two photos of his mother, briey described in the story:

Roberto talked about my mother and showed me two photos: in one they are both embraced by a canal: in the other she smokes on a balcony and looks down. When I asked if he had copies, he said he could do them and he promised that he would look for more pictures. ( 2014, 49) 11

The narrator-protagonist is asked to stay for lunch and tells that during the meal Roberto talked very little about his mother. As a matter of fact, his void of memory caused by the traumatic experiences of political violence, disappearance and exile are made explicit when Roberto cannot seem to remember when he last saw the narrator-protagonists mother, or why they stopped seeing each other. The only thing Roberto does remember is that shortly before no one ever again heard from the narrator-protagonists mother, by coincidence they had crossed in the street but they never said hello since she made him a sign not to. When the narrator-protagonist gives Robertos wife Cecilia a ride he thinks of his mother and the possibility of nding out more, while she talks:

Actually, nothing of what she said mattered much to me, and I felt somewhat uneasy. I won- dered how old Cecilia could be, but I was more worried about nding out new details of the morning when Roberto had seen mom for the last time. ¿Where had it been? How long before her disappearance? Would this be the last news I would have of her or would I ever nd out something else? ( 2014 , 51) 12

When the unnamed narrator returns to his house he plans to write in his notebook on his mother and drink two or three bottles of wine, as he always does when he nds outs some- thing new about his mother. But he states, this time he did neither. He hopes for more details, even from Cecilia, and states that every time a stranger talks to him about his mother, he expects to nd about something extraordinary, which catapults his imagin- ation, with nightmares. Indeed, in Otras fotos de mamá the brief encounter with his mothers ex-boyfriend who shows him two photos mostly seems to reinforce the traumatic void of disappearance and project a need to nd out more to write down in his personal archive, a notebook. The other photos, the ones not yet seen are of more importance than the ones available. However, in this story the lack of memories and memory objects does not, as in Pozo de aire, inspire the production new images to substitute the ones lost or missing or aimed at reproducing the gaze of the lost parent. Instead, the narrative self is perforated by the persistent voids of the archival objects he manages to gather. Bruz- zone s short story on the other photos ends in desperation and anxiety with the narra- tor-protagonist getting drunk together with the Chinese drugstore owner in his block. In 2012 Mariana Eva Pérez s blog Diario de una princesa montonera110% verdad [Diaries of a Montonero Princess 110% Truth] was published as a homonymous novel. 13 This intermedial text is of a more extrovert and overtly political character than the texts of Gaona and Bruzzone, since it relates not only to the personal story of loss but it also comments on the political and artistic repertoires in post-dictatorial Argentina. Diario de una princesa is protagonized by Pérezs autoctional alter ego who while writing her own texts re ects on the ways the narratives of the last dictatorship have been told and she a rms that new forms of expression are necessary. This is not a solitary and introvert


LIFE WRITING 9 exploration of the narrative self. On the contrary, Perez ’ s text is


exploration of the narrative self. On the contrary, Perezs text is written from the collective position of the politically active second generation, who wishes to make public their own versions of political violence and disappearance. In this regard, a blog is the perfect plat- form to scrutinise what the narrator calls the embodied institutional prose14 ( 2012, 46) and to dwell on her own strategies of production in what she calls Disneyland des Droits de lHomme (126), that is, Argentina. Eva Mariana Pérez participates in many di erent ways in the construction of new ways to approach the memories of violence and particularly in the project of resignication carried out by the second generation. In the context of this article I will focus on a blog post that dates the 30 of May 2010, with the title Mi primera foto con papá[My First Photo with My Father]. 15 ( Figure 1 ) In this post the well-known symbology of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo as well as the photomontages of second-generation artists, most notably Lucila Quieto, is repur- posed beyond mere reproduction by means of a self-reexive and ironic approach to the authorial subject s memory practices. In this picture, reproduced in black and white in the book, we see a close-up in colour of Pérez s face, partially superimposed on a blurred black-and-white photo of her father in the background. By means of the insertion of this photo, Pérez also plays a game of mirrors when the real writer visually unfolds in her auto ctional diary. The picture was taken when a memorial was placed on the street where Pérezs parents lived when being kidnapped by the military. The interaction with the readers of the blog opens up for an active readership. One of the readers asks if Pérez actually doesnt have any pictures of herself together with her parents and she

any pictures of herself together with her parents and she Figure 1. Blog post from Diaries

Figure 1. Blog post from Diaries of a Montonero Princess110% Truth


10 A. FORNÉ answers that she only has one with her mother breastfeeding her, but for


answers that she only has one with her mother breastfeeding her, but for security reasons the head was cut oby the photographer, who was her father. In a way, this gesture vio- lently mimics what was a about to happen, and is being reversed when reappropriating archival materials in public memory acts as well as in the blog. This public dimension and collective participation is made explicit when in another post, also from the 30 of May 2010, Pérez pays homage to Lucila Quieto who captured all these fantasies. 16 Fur- thermore, in the novel she also suggests that ( 2012, 125) the collage is the preferred tech- nique of production in many of the art works of the second generation because it is a practice that best responds to the concerns of this generation (125). Indeed, the montage of personal and public materials in dierent forms of collages is what characterises archival auto ction in post-dictatorial Argentina. Although all three texts operate from an archival impulse that gravitates around photos of their disappeared parents, the di erences seem to be more than the similarities. Pérezs blog-diary works according to a logic of public archives, which dismantles the certainties of o cial histor- iography from a collective position. Likewise, it requests the cooperation of its readers referring to the blogs and the creations of other artists of the same generation, creating in this way a new archive, open to the public. The photo-poems of Gaona, on the other hand, projects more intimate and opaque memories, evoked from a photo stored in a drawer. Instead of providing reading clues, the scarce referentiality and the incommensur- ability of images and text in Pozo de aire, requests a reader that moves along with the authorial subjectivity in the process of arranging and resignifying the interspersed photos of the present and past personal archive. In Bruzzones short story, the interrog- ation marks abound and the quest for materials to incorporate and arrange into an archive has just started. In this case, the lack of objects seems to incite the authorial sub- jectivity more than what the found photos manage to project in form of memories.


1. This artistic series has been addressed in several recent studies among which the above-men- tioned by Blejmar ( 2016 ) as well as the ones of Blejmar, Mandolessi, and Perez ( 2018 ) and Basile ( 2019 ) stand out.

2. See for example Forné ( 2017 , 2018).

3. I am using the edition of Bruzzone s 76 published in 2014.

4. All translations are mine, unless otherwise indicated. Pero mientras sea desaparecido, no puede tener ningún tratamiento especial, es una incognita, es un desaparecido, no tiene entidad, no está, ni muerto ni vivo, está desaparecido.See for example: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=ASMPYg0YueU .

5. In Lucila Quieto s photo-essays Arquelogía de la ausencia [Arqueology of Absence] from 1999 to 2000 the adult children of the disappeared selected a photograph of their parent which was projected onto a wall and the child took place in the projected imaged which then was photographed, producing a new, sometimes the rst, picture of child and parent together. See: http://casanovaarqueologia.blogspot.com and www.comisionporlamemoria. org/museo/project/arqueologia-de-la-ausencia/ .

6. ‘ … entregarse, sin más, a la conclusividad de lo inimaginable, que es la de lo indecible, que es la de lo inenarrable .


LIFE WRITING 11 invierno llega más rápido de lo esperado y se lleva todo. El 21


invierno llega más rápido de lo esperado y se lleva todo. El 21 de marzo de 1977 desaparece



papá. Pero esa foto queda. Y muchas fueron las veces que revisé el cajón de la mesita de luz


mi mamá para mirarla. Es en la imagen que más confío .


Limpias de signi cado.


Fortuny and Blejmar also analyse María Soledad Nívoli s documentary photo essay entitled

Cómo miran tus ojos [How Your Eyes See] from 2007. See: http://comomirantusojos. blogspot.com/ .


Los efectos poéticos de las fotos encontradas se escalonan según el grado en que su contenido e historia incumben al observador.


Roberto habló de mamá y me mostró dos fotos: en una están los dos abrazados en la orilla de


canal: en la otra, ella fuma en un balcón y mira hacia abajo. Cuando le pregunté si tenía

copias dijo que podía hacerlas y prometió que iba a buscar más fotos.


En realidad, nada de lo que decía me importaba mucho, y me sentía algo inquieto. Me preg- untaba cuántos años podría tener Cecilia, pero más me preocupaba saber nuevos detalles de la mañana en que Roberto había visto a mamá por última vez. ¿Dónde había sido? ¿Cuánto antes de su desaparición? `Sería esa la últma noticia que yo tendría de ella o alguna vez log- raría saber algo más?.


Montoneros was an urban Peronist guerrilla group active in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of its members were disappeared during dictatorship.


la prosa institucional que se me hizo carne.



plasmó cada una de estas fantasias.

Disclosure statement

No potential conict of interest was reported by the author.

Notes on contributor

Anna Forné is an Associate Professor of Hispanic Literature and Cultures at the University of Gothenburg. She has published extensively in the eld of memory studies and Latin American lit- erature and culture, focusing primarily on the narrative con gurations of memories of dictatorship in Argentina and Uruguay. Furthermore, she is currently working on a monograph on The Politics of Poetics: The Testimonial Genre and the Literary Prize of Casa de las Américas (1970 2011).


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