Lucila Quieto’s <em>Filiación</em> and the End[s] of Post-Dictatorship Art-Photography
Post-dictatorship Argentinian art-photography is often regarded as exemplifying a contemporary rejection of the photograph as infallible index of past presence. Instead, commentators tend to view artists’ photo-essays primarily as post-photographic ‘testimonies’ to the compensatory or fictional aspects of an incomplete or even invented memory of the authoritarian past. While acknowledging this appeal to the poetic capacity of photography, this essay nevertheless proposes that for artists and viewers alike, the credibility of the photograph as index has not simply been discarded. Indeed, a nostalgia for an archival image which can be conflated with a material trace of past experience or even with the referent itself, has continued to inform both the production and reception of such art photography. By extension, this appeal to a residual materiality in photo-essays largely devoted to the affective realm of family grief for disappeared relatives, actually allows the photo-artists to transcend the limits of a depoliticized family frame and to re-affirm the traditional link between history and photography. Consequently, Lucila Quieto’s Filiación (2013), an emblematic instance of this premise, serves, both aesthetically and thematically, to divert the viewer away from empathetic familial identification towards a reading of the exhibition as an allegory of the political violence exercised in a specific historical context.