A Poetics of the Trace
Emblazoned across the top of his personal web site, Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán welcomes visitors with the statement “Un país sin cine documental es como una familia sin álbum de fotografías” (A country without documentaries is like a family without a photo album), which succinctly articulates the work of the documentary in contemporary Latin America. Without questioning the documentary mission, Guzmán also asserts its affective charge: like a photo album, the documentary is a medium of history, but also, in a more complicated fashion, a medium of memory, emotion, and affect. Like the photo album, the documentary holds (or pretends to hold on to) an indexical charge—the photographic trace that Bazin, Barthes, Sontag, and so many others have eloquently written about—while emotionally working on very different and much more complex levels. The documentary—photo album—is also a palimpsest through which the personal and public interface, the traces of which serve to haunt our identities and politics in the present.
KeywordsCamera Movement Female Voice Home Video Photo Album Military Dictatorship
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