SLAS (Society For Latin American Studies Conference), University of Saint Andrews, Scotland, April 2011

Challenging Genre and Traditional Visual Categories in the Southern Cone

The Advancement of New Technologies in the Arts, Cinema and the Media. In the past thirty years, together with the reinstatement of democracy in most of the countries of the Southern Cone, there has been an upsurge of cultural productions that blur the distinction between artistic and political engagement. In addition, the growth in the region of new technologies, which have often allowed most of these productions to come to be, has gradually changed how the spectator experiences those works and how the works themselves are institutionally apprehended. By altering aesthetics, defying predetermined structures, straddling the boundaries of genre and reconceptualising socio-political intervention, these visual products have managed to use this new media to confront power relations, not only embedded within the recent history of each country of origin, but also embedded within the cultural institutions that regulate and legitimate the artistic productions, and the theoretical categories that have been traditionally used to describe them. This panel aims to explore how the arts, cinema and the media have been changing in the past decades due to the growth of new technologies, and to what extent this change has been institutionalized.

Session 1: Sunday, 0900-10:30 (Buch. 216) (Chair: Georgiana Dragota)
Javier Campo, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Video usage on documentary in the Southern Cone: aesthetic and productive transformations.
Video technology has had a decisive (though late) influence in documentary film production in the Southern Cone. The introduction of this technological device in the film medium was delayed by the military dictatorships which suspended the technical and cultural innovation in the subcontinent. Thus the exiled filmmakers were those who started experimenting with video, like the Argentine Fernando Solanas in Los hijos de Fierro (1984) and Chileans Marilú Mallet and Patricio Guzmán Diario inconcluso (1982) and En nombre de Dios (1986) respectively. Video usage in documentary film-making had a large increase during the 90s. Production and aesthetic changes were decisive for the creation and diffusion of new methods of carrying out documentary, in line with global changes in documentary that had been taking place in previous years. In this sense the objective of this work is to investigate those formal and production changes that led to the increase of documentary films in the Southern Cone, while addressing local and international reference literature.

Tomás F. Crowder-Taraborrelli, Soka University of America, USA
Nicolás Prividera’s M: the documentary filmmaker as a detective seeking out untruthful memories. Nicolás Prividera’s documentary film M is a film about an investigation. Prividera himself appears in his film wearing a wrinkled trench coat reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart noir PICs. In M, the investigator is personally involved. The missing person is his own mother, Marta Sierra, a political activist and educator that went missing during the Argentine military dictatorship. Everyone seems to be hiding something, and in M, the inquisitive presence of the video camera does not guarantee any earnest revelations. In fact, the camera mirrors Prividera’s distrustful demeanour; its presence does nothing to evaporate the fog of the mystery. By contrast, it deepens, revealing a complicity of silences and gestures. 

In my presentation, I will analyse the role that video, family photos and 8mm movies play in assisting Prividera in the representation of a memory satiated with absences. Although he appears to give himself completely over to the investigation of the disappearance of his mother, he seems discontent about the form of the documentation of this process. M exposes the inadequacy of personal video projects -projects that don’t have the support of powerful institutions and the community at large- to investigate genocidal crimes. The quote that appears at the beginning of M describes the existential angst Prividera feels at not being able to find the strength to communicate his emptiness. AsWilliam Faulkner says in his novel Absalon, Absalon!, “su niñez estaba poblada de nombres, su propio cuerpo era como un salón vacío lleno de ecos de sonoros nombres derrotados. No era un ser, una persona, era una comunidad”.

With Javier Campo and Clara Garavelli

Clara Garavelli, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Playing with Memory: Short Experimental Video Documentaries in Contemporary
Argentina. Since the end of the military dictatorship in Argentina at the beginning of the 1980s, there has been a vast amount of cultural production devoted to raising awareness of the human rights abuses that occurred during those dark years. Whereas these kinds of productions have been widely studied within traditional disciplines and categories, there are some areas still waiting to be analysed and discussed. Such is the case, for instance, of those works located at the interstices of art and cinema: short experimental videos that employ certain documentary modes and do not recur to narrative structures. 

Their way of dealing with memory and its ways of representation are partly connected with the proliferation of new technologies. By reducing the costs of production and opening up the possibilities for exhibition, the so-called ‘new media’ allow a stage of experimentation with the audiovisual language that is yet to be uncovered. Therefore, this paper will try to briefly explore how the works of Graciela Taquini, Gabriela Golder, Julieta Hanono, Andrés Denegri, Carlos Trilnick and Gustavo Galuppo, explore new ways of dealing with memory whilst challenging the traditional documentary mode. Session 2: Sunday, 11:00-12:30 (Buch. 216) (Chair: Clara Garavelli)

Elena Rosauro, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
The Walking Archive: Art, Politics and Blogging. In 2001, the Argentinian artist Eduardo Molinari (1961) created the Walking Archive (AC), the core of his artistic practice. It consists of photographs from public archives, photographs taken by the artist himself, and “junk” material (newspapers, magazines, and collected or donated graphic materials). The AC is a work in progress that Molinari defines as a visual archive concerned with the actual and imaginary relationships between art, history and politics. It is a sheaf of critical reflections on the official historical narratives. 

The AC is a structure capable of engaging with the context-world: the places the artist travels, but also the national/post-national tension, since his practice starts from the local sphere but has global reference points. Therefore, the archive is an open shape where borders are dissolved. This paper intends to reflect on the use of archives and documents as emerging spaces of construction, through the case study of Molinari, starting from two hypotheses: history and art are practices that reconfigure past and present differently, but with certain concomitances; the works of art incorporating the concepts of document and archive reelaborate the relationship between history, culture and politics, while requiring a close relationship with new technologies.
Cecilia Palmeiro, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK
Poéticas vitales en tránsito: Antiestéticas de lo trash. This paper examines how a certain constellation of texts and political practices produced during the last 30 years in Argentina and Brazil allows to rethink the status of literature and its relationship with politics in contemporary Latin America. Ranging across a series of translations, smugglings and short-circuits between Argentina and Brazil, mainly operated by poet and activist Néstor Perlongher, this work elaborates a dialectical image of a discontinuous trail of queer-trash anti-aesthetics, orientated to the mutation of subjectivity through a queer bodily experimentation understood as a molecular revolution. 

Reading together underground literature with documents of avant-garde political activism, this paper explores the forms in which literature reaches beyond the limits of its autonomy to intervene in concrete social practices, as well as explores political formations alternative to the classic concept of engagement.This materialistic analysis allows to read anti-aesthetic movements as expression of cultural conflicts that boosts the insurgent impulses in society as an objective need of social change, as well as intends to provide a language of expression for those impulses.

Francisco Godoy, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Body practices, public practices, registered practices: the documentation of certain performances in the 70’s and 80’s in Chile. Since the birth of photography and anthropology the register of the body is constituted as a mechanism for classification and control of the body-other. Against this, some conceptual practices between the late 60’s and late 80’s in Chile – in diverging ways – present and de-construct the body in the streets, in the alternative gallery spaces and housing (protected meeting places) as a vindication of an abject and de-centred body.

In this biopolitical and public acts occur a disruptive articulation of the relationship between art, politics and regulated body. In this context, the record in video and photography is established as the “documentation” of those practices known as ephemeral and, therefore, its memory is in those materials. Nowadays, with the boom of the archive, these materials made in difficult circumstances are in debate between their classification as “work of art” or document, between their private conservation or public re-activation. This presentation will discuss certain works registered of the Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (CADA), Carlos Leppe and Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis, all of them practices that occurred at different moments of the
dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Georgiana Dragota, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
The role of new technologies in the internationalisation process: the diffusion of Latin-American telenovelas in Romania. During the last two decades, the growth of new technologies has contributed to an increase in the transnational circulation of television products. The Latin American telenovela has reached new markets due to such internationalisation. The development of satellite and cable television and the deregulation of the public channels in Europe are the main factors that favoured the emergence of new private television channels. Such television series began to be broadcast in Romania starting in the ’90s, after the fall of the Communist regime, when the number of privatelyowned television channels increased considerably, along with the necessity of programming to fill the emission schedule. 

The telenovelas have been in increasingly high demand due to their great popularity and high audience ratings. The main purpose of this paper is to illustrate how the telenovela industry has been driven by the development of the means of production and technology, which allows the series to be produced on a large scale, and destined for both the national and international market. The illustrative case of Romania shows how new technologies have contributed to the inclusion of Latin American telenovelas in the programming schedule.

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