Beyond Representation

In May I got to work with Florencia Garramuno’s “Beyond Representation,” a talk given at the University of Chicago. It concerns what she calls the “documentary tendency” in Latin American art projects and suggests what I think are critical new ways to articulate our readings of history.

She focuses on the respectively Argentine and Mexican films Campo Minado, by Lola Arias, and El rumor de incendio, by the group Lagartijas tiradas al sol. Each allows several subjectivities, or “yoes,” to speak for themselves and with each other to submerge the director’s vision in various retellings or re-enactments. By doing so, the films question the representation of a supposed unitary event and keep history open to multiple experiences dislocated both from the event itself and from a central or privileged perspective in the imperfect meeting of subjectivities. 

Perspectives offered in one scene will open into perspectives offered in others. The Falkland War veterans from both Argentina and Britain in Campo Minado speak to each other and use each other, cast each other, to restage battles. The daughter of a Mexican revolutionary in El rumor…appears as the character of her mother until the mother appears as herself. News media representations contemporary to the events narrated appear as back drops to the narrations to create oscillating (event) horizons. The so called “facts” of history are seen from and dissolve into the present of their being investigated.

I love it.