Photography, Resistance and the Disappeared in Argentina


6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


  • Time: 18:00-19:00
  • Date: Monday, 24 May 2021
  • Venue: HS436


Roland Barthes’s seminal book Camera Lucida was published in 1980, in the midst of the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina, a military regime responsible for the disappearance of 30,000 people. Barthes’s work has become an indispensable reference point when expressing the ability of photographs to ‘tell death in the future’ and to function as memento mori. Since 1977, the Mothers (Madres) of Plaza de Mayo have employed ID photographs of the Disappeared (Desaparecidos) precisely in this fashion: as material proof of an existence denied by the military state; as evidence of ‘what has been’ and ‘is no longer’. Strictly speaking, however, the photographs of the Disappeared do not entirely fit within the parameters of Barthes’s famous dictum. His reference to the ‘that-has-been’ introduces a different temporality to that of someone who, strictly speaking, is not but also has not stopped being. In this talk we explore various uses of the photographs of the Disappeared in Argentina’s visual culture –from the monochrome galleries of frozen portraits that accompanied the walks of the Mothers to more contemporary and playful photo montages created by the children of the Disappeared –to ask to what extent these works challenge or redefine some canonical ideas about absence and memory in photographic studies.


Jordana Blejmar is Lecturer in Visual Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Liverpool. She is the author of Playful Memories: The Autofictional Turn in Post-Dictatorship Argentina (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and the co-editor of Instantáneas de la memoria: Fotografía y dictadura en Argentina y América Latina (with Natalia Fortuny and Luis García, Libraria, 2013), El pasado inasequible: desaparecidos, hijos y combatientes en el arte y la literatura del nuevo milenio (with Mariana Eva Perez and Silvana Mandolessi, Eudeba, 2018) and Entre/telones y pantallas: afectos y saberes en la performance argentina contemporánea (with Philippa Page and Cecilia Sosa, Libraria, 2020). She is also a Tate Exchange Associate and an Assistant Editor of the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies/Bulletin of Contemporary Hispanic Studies.

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