Residual Images and Political Time: Memory and History in Chile, Obstinate Memory and City of Photographers

  • José Miguel Palacios
Part of the Global Cinema book series (GLOBALCINE)


In Cultural Residues: Chile in Transition, Nelly Richard argues that “where memory of the past is most dramatically displayed is in the crisscrossed narratives of the detained-disappeared and of their relatives who struggle against the disappearance of the body, always having incessantly to produce the social appearance of the memory of its disappearance” (2004, 25). Is there an image, a filmic image, for the kind of irruption Nelly Richard describes—the appearance of a disappearance? If there is anything close to it, this is what it looks like. A woman, Carmen Vivanco, sits at a table. To her left there is a TV with a freeze frame, the close-up of someone who looks very much like a young Carmen about 20 years earlier. When the director asks her if she is the person in that frame, Carmen answers that it could be her, although she is unsure because the image dates from so long ago. “Twentythree years,” reinforces the director, raising new doubts in Carmen and the only response she feels safe with—“perhaps.” We do not know if she truly cannot recognize herself or if her doubts arise out of fear, surprise, or shock for being confronted with the image. What we do know, however, is that after this brief conversation the film cuts to a shot of the TV, where we see, reflected in the blurred frame of what is now a moving image, the in-focus face of the old Carmen. Then the director asks her which members of her family remain “disappeared,” which she answers by stating the names of her husband, son, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew (Figure 6.1).


Political Discourse Collective Memory Photographic Image Truth Claim Residual Image 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Vinicius Navarro and Juan Carlos Rodríguez 2014

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  • José Miguel Palacios

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