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Hughes / Lorenzini / Vicua


Tres fotgrafas durante
la dictadura militar en Chile
Av. Providencia 2608 of. 63, Santiago, Chile
Fono (+056) 02 335 1767 www.ocholibros.cl
Prohibida la reproduccin total o parcial de este libro
por cualquier medio impreso, electrnico y/o digital,
sin la expresa autorizacin de los editores.
Ficha catalogrca
770 Rojas Corradi, Montserrat
770.92 Fonseca Velasco, Mario
864.CH Gonzlez Flores, Laura
Visible
/
Invisible
Santiago, Ocho Libros Editores
2012, 1a edicin
156 pp. / Ilus.
Ocho Libros Editores
Montserrat Rojas, Mario Fonseca, Laura Gonzlez
Primera edicin de 1.000 ejemplares,
impreso en los talleres de Maval S.A.
en junio de 2012.
Inscripcin RPI 215.934
ISBN 978-956-335-109-5
Impreso en Chile | Printed in Chile
Director editorial Gonzalo Badal
Editor general lvaro Matus
Gerenta de produccin Sandra Gaete
Directora de arte y diseo Jenny Abud
Diseo editorial Marisol Abarca
Correccin de textos Edison Prez
Fotografas portada Helen Hughes (izquierda),
Kena Lorenzini (centro), y Leonora Vicua
Produccin editorial Carla Motto
Obra nanciada por:
Convocatoria 2010
Fondart Nacional

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Hughes / Lorenzini / Vicua
Tres fotgrafas durante
la dictadura militar en Chile
Montserrat Rojas Corradi
Laura Gonzlez / Mario Fonseca
A mis nonos, padres y hermana
Montserrat Rojas Corradi
Esta investigacin dur cinco aos y sin la ayuda de
determinadas personas habra sido imposible llegar a
puerto. Por ello, quisiera agradecer en primer lugar a mis
padres, quienes accedieron a contarme sus experiencias
vividas durante los primeros meses despus del golpe de
Estado de 1973, y a mi hermana mayor, que era en esa
poca muy pequea pero que me ha apoyado en todo
momento. Tambin hago un especial agradecimiento a
la fotgrafa Paz Errzuriz, quien me abri las puertas
en Chile para generar esta investigacin, compartiendo
contactos e ideas. De este modo llegu a conocer a
las tres fotgrafas del presente libro: Helen Hughes,
Kena Lorenzini y Leonora Vicua, quienes aceptaron
participar en esta exploracin fotogrca contando lo
vivido durante el rgimen militar.
Montserrat Rojas Corradi
Contenido
Evocar lo ausente, por Monserrat Rojas Corradi y Mario Fonseca .............. 11
Notas autobiogrcas sobre la fotografa imaginaria,
por Montserrat Rojas Corradi .................................................................. 15
Las primeras fotografas del lbum familiar ............................................... 16
La fotografa documental y la memoria ................................................... 20
La fotografa poltica femenina durante la dictadura ................................. 22
La fotografa de la solidaridad de Helen Hughes ........................................ 23
El zigzag de la violencia en la fotografa de Kena Lorenzini ......................... 25
Intimidacin e intimidad en la fotografa de Leonora Vicua .....................26
La memoria como semntica de la oscuridad, por Laura Gonzlez ......... 31
La perseverancia de Mnemsine, por Mario Fonseca ..............................39
Fotografas de Helen Hughes .................................................................45
Fotografas de Kena Lorenzini ................................................................ 71
Fotografas de Leonora Vicua ..............................................................97
Visible / Invisible English version ............................................................... 123
11
Evocar lo ausente
Este libro rene a las fotgrafas Leonora Vicua, Kena Lorenzini y Helen
Hughes, quienes desarrollaron parte importante de su trabajo durante el pe-
riodo dictatorial, trazando un mapa visual sobre la memoria de la poca, en
muchas instancias desconocida para la sociedad actual. Ciertamente son po-
cos los estudios referidos a la fotografa de la dictadura que adems aborden
una esttica desde su sentido documental y desde una perspectiva de gnero.
Esta publicacin aspira a congurar una nueva mirada y nuevos ujos en
torno a la fotografa de la poca, la cual ha sido inscrita en un campo menor del
quehacer artstico, determinando una circulacin limitada y una crtica escasa
de sus imgenes. Incluso Susan Meiselas, miembro de la agencia Magnum y
editora del libro Chile from within, se reri a la gran similitud de las fotogra-
fas de la dictadura, sugiriendo una carencia autoral. Tal armacin niega las
huellas seguidas por cada autor en su afn testimonial, as como su mirada
particular ante cada evento, desde sus supuestos estticos, polticos y biogr-
cos, y desde su percepcin emocional, todo lo cual construye las connotacio-
nes simblicas que cada imagen traslada consigo. Si Laura Gonzlez se reere
a la fotografa como lo que certica nuestra realidad material, al aadirle las
distintas representaciones que las imgenes inscriben en el campo cultural,
podemos encontrarnos ante el simbolismo cognitivo chileno.
Las imgenes se hicieron al principio para evocar la apariencia de algo au-
sente, dice John Berger en Modos de ver. Visible / Invisible remite a la ausencia de
lo que se mir y no se mir en un periodo de abandono, de distanciamiento so-
cial y poltico. Las fotgrafas observaban y registraban desde sus respectivas
identidades femeninas, produciendo imgenes que muchas veces emergan
solo en funcin de su impacto y no de su constitucin, cargada de matices ex-
clusivos aunque no excluyentes. Estas fotografas no fueron visualizadas ms
12
all de su contingencia funcional durante el periodo militar y quedaron guar-
dadas en la memoria obtusa de la dictadura.
Walter Benjamin habla del agotamiento de la memoria histrica; en ese
sentido, la vida diaria durante la dictadura chilena tiende a desvanecerse en los
discursos, va desapareciendo de la memoria y de las representaciones actua-
les. El periodo militar simboliz represin, miedo, encierro, desapariciones y
muerte; y en esa perspectiva las situaciones cotidianas fueron anuladas, como
si no existieran o estuviera prohibido reconocerlas en aquellos momentos de
acoso y aislamiento. Esta publicacin rescata imgenes que develan momen-
tos nimios, dramticos y sublimes del acontecer urbano durante la dictadura,
intercaladas con aquellas que circularon ms ampliamente por su carcter de
denuncia, en donde los rituales acostumbrados se despliegan en las fotogra-
fas de las tres mujeres.
Leonora Vicua presenta un mundo privado, ntimo, en el cual los prota-
gonistas son poetas, intelectuales y bohemios que circulaban en los espacios
comunes al ciudadano de aquel periodo: bares, fuentes de soda, el interior de
las casas. Vicua congura una cuidad oculta en una etapa de contenciones
polticas y culturales, en la cual ella traza identidades simblicas que no fueron
comprendidas en la poca. Sus fotografas, de hecho, se hicieron atemporales.
O mejor: permanecen suspendidas en el tiempo.
En otro sentido, Helen Hughes revela momentos de encuentros cruciales
de participacin comunitaria, testimonios de eventos dramticos que solo sus
registros complementarios permiten visualizar cabalmente en su dimensin y
alcance. La mirada tmida de Hughes se reeja en las miradas cruzadas de sus
retratados, cada una en su horizonte introspectivo, proporcionando ngulos y
dimensiones silenciosas de aquellos lapsos sociales, donde los ocios desme-
drados son tratados con nobleza y los nios trastocan el horror con el humor.
Kena Lorenzini juega directamente con la irona y los errores situaciona-
les; gran parte de sus imgenes son un escenario cticio de lo que ocurri o
de lo que, parafraseando a Enrique Lihn, aunque ocurri nunca ocurri pero
s quiso ocurrir. Con Lorenzini recorremos los mrgenes fotogrcos donde
los sujetos represores pasan a ser guras del absurdo. Intercaladas en estos
contextos desvariados, sus annimas heronas femeninas protagonizan las
ms variadas instancias de resistencia al rgimen, sea con una sonrisa, una
pancarta o una honda.
13
Desde los escenarios reales y cticios que movilizan los dilogos entre la
imagen y el observador, Visible / Invisible se propone como una contribucin a
la historia visual del pas.
Montserrat Rojas Corradi y Mario Fonseca
Santiago, diciembre de 2011
15
Notas autobiogrcas sobre la fotografa imaginaria
rCr iC:1sLrr~1 rC,~s cCrr~Di
Pero no soy ingls y nunca lo ser. Conozco ambos lugares ntimamente, pero no
pertenezco por completo a ninguno de los dos. Y esa es exactamente la experiencia de
la dispora; uno est lo bastante lejos para experimentar un sentimiento de exilio y de
prdida, y lo bastante cerca para entender el enigma de una arribada
siempre pospuesta.
Stuart Hall
El sentimiento de pertenecer y no pertenecer a un lugar se maniesta y est
arraigado en muchos hijos de la dictadura de Pinochet, quienes conviven con
dos culturas, lenguajes e historias. Para m, tal problemtica comenz con una
fotografa: en ella gura una pareja con una nia en brazos. La mujer sostiene
un ramo de ores y est con la cabeza agachada, lo que recuerda la famosa
Piet, de Miguel ngel. El hombre, alto y de mirada melanclica, abraza a su
mujer e hija. Ellos son mis padres y mi hermana, antes de que yo naciera. Esta
imagen fue tomada en noviembre de 1973, en su arribo a Hannover, Alema-
nia. Eran los primeros chilenos exiliados y su retrato apareci en el diario Neue
Hannoversche Zeitung, donde se lea: Die Chilenen kammen mit leichtem
Gepck und schwerer Errinerung (Los chilenos llegaron con maletas ligeras y
recuerdos pesados).
Los retratos congelan un instante, una vida, un cuerpo. Yo siento que esta
imagen es parte de m, pero ahora pienso que tambin permite que aoren in-
terrogantes sobre lo que ocurri con la fotografa chilena en los aos del rgi-
men militar. Paul Valry manifest que en el inicio de toda teora siempre hay
elementos biogrcos. Este libro, de hecho, surge de la experiencia de dispora
y de la propia memoria: la imagen de mis padres, desconocida por m durante
16
aos y publicada en la portada del diario alemn, me plante ciertas interro-
gantes: Cules fueron las dicultades de la circulacin de la fotografa periods-
tica chilena en esa poca? Fue mero registro o hay piezas de carcter autoral?
Cmo se relaciona esta fotografa con otras propuestas visuales de la poca?
Este tipo de fotografa en Chile cumpli una funcin de reconocimiento del
otro. Muchas imgenes fueron realizadas por una necesidad ntima de testi-
moniar lo que ocurra o tambin motivadas por una gradual apertura de las
plataformas opositoras al rgimen. Hoy, a casi cuarenta aos, se han conver-
tido en smbolos de la memoria poltica, en piezas clave de reexin y crtica.
Cabe sealar que tal tipo de fotografa transit durante aos en el mbito pri-
vado, a nivel familiar, imposibilitando, de este modo, la formacin de un ima-
ginario visual comn.
Ahora, si esta fotografa es publicada en un medio que perdura (los diarios
informan sobre el aqu y el ahora, y se desvanecen cada da) pasa a ser una
experiencia compartida por otros. Es lo que tambin ha ocurrido con buena
parte de la fotografa creada durante el rgimen militar y que comenz a circu-
lar en la transicin. Con ello se abren lecturas imperceptibles en la sociedad, y
por eso es importante indagar sobre la fotografa en los momentos silenciados
de la historia. Un ejemplo de esto se encuentra en la reexin que desarrolla
Georges Didi-Huberman en su libro Imgenes pese a todo, donde se da a conocer
un conjunto de fotografas encontradas en Auschwitz. Quiz en Chile tam-
bin existen imgenes captadas desde el torturador como un oscuro registro
desgraciadamente an desconocido de lo que se haca en el interior de los
organismos de represin estatales. Todo esto nos remite al estrecho vnculo
entre memoria e imagen: los recuerdos pasan por nuestra conciencia como
una imagen, y tal imagen opera como fotografa. Si los recuerdos son fotogra-
fas, entonces el relato de mis padres a partir del cual reconstruyo mi historia
se erige como una especie de fotografa oral.
Las primeras fotografas del lbum familiar
Sentada en una fuente de soda en la Plaza de Armas, mi mam empez a con-
tarme su historia y lo que haba vivido con mi padre tras el golpe de Estado.
Ellos eran de Via del Mar y se conocieron en la Universidad Catlica de Valpa-
raso, donde mi padre era profesor y ella, su alumna. Segn el relato, un poeta
17
(mi padre) haba conquistado a la mujer ms bella del puerto (mi madre). Des-
pus de casarse, se trasladaron a Temuco, donde l asumi el cargo de direc-
tor de la sede regional del Inacap. Mi hermana mayor naci en el sur. Segn
mi padre, antes de que ocurriera el golpe militar ya se saba o se sospechaba
por lo menos que poda venir un suceso polticamente fuerte. Por este motivo
muchos se preparaban. El 11 de septiembre en la maana, tras enterarse por
rumores de los sucesos en Santiago, mi familia fue a esconderse a la casa de
unos conocidos. Mi padre me cont alguna vez que apenas una hora despus
llegaron los militares a buscarlos. Durante los das que vinieron siguieron ocul-
tndose entre amigos, hasta separarse nalmente: mi padre se fue a una po-
blacin de Temuco, mientras mi madre, con mi hermana en brazos, partieron
todava ms al sur, con destino incierto.
Primera fotografa, Valparaso, noviembre de 1973
Aparecen mi madre, mi padre y mi hermana mayor, de apenas un ao y medio.
Estn en una plaza de Valparaso, una maana soleada. Esperan una reunin
clandestina. Pero mi madre, quien no se separaba de mi hermana mayor, en al-
gn momento perdi de vista a mi padre. Repentinamente, unos carabineros
vestidos de civil lo rodearon y se lo llevaron. Muchos aos despus, mientras es-
tbamos en el restaurante de la Plaza de Armas, mi madre record que tras la
detencin de mi padre mi hermana se solt de su mano y corri gritando hacia
l. Ella no entenda qu pasaba Por qu esos hombres tenan rodeado a su pap?
Esta imagen evoca un hecho que hoy solo est registrado en la memoria familiar.
Segunda fotografa, Valparaso
Tras su captura, mi padre fue trasladado a la crcel de Valparaso, ubicada cerca
del cerro Larran. Sus recuerdos son borrosos. No sabe si estuvo uno o dos das,
pues siempre lo tuvieron vendado. Recuerda que en algn momento fue trasla-
dado a la Academia de Guerra, donde tampoco pudo ver nada, pero oy las voces
de algunos conocidos en un cuarto contiguo. La imagen es oscura. Existirn fo-
tografas tomadas al interior de la Academia de Guerra?
Tercera fotografa, Santiago
A mi padre lo llevaron a una comisara ubicada en el centro. Iba vendado y solo
recuerda el silencio del calabozo. No vio ni habl con nadie. Mi madre, por su
18
parte, recuerda a una mesera que haba atendido a mi familia en un local. Esta-
ba presa, al parecer, por haber robado algo. Ella se acord de esta pareja joven
y le regal un pan a mi pap. En un poema que escribi en la clandestinidad, l
evoca ste y otros episodios de la crcel:
He sentido la felicidad de un trozo de pan
regalado por una delincuente desconocida
o la llegada de un paquete cualquiera
o la salida al bao autorizada por el guardia
o los buenos saludos de un polica
o la mirada cristalina de un revolucionario
o la cinta amarilla de la cajetilla de cigarros
que t me regalaste
aquel da que pens perda para siempre tus brazos y que yo guard
lejos de las llaves de los guardias
para mirarme en tus ojos hasta la ltima despedida.
Cuarta fotografa, Temuco
Mi padre lleg a una crcel de Temuco. Durante el viaje nicamente iba custo-
diado por dos carabineros. Mi padre habl mucho con ellos, quizs como una
especie de estrategia de sobrevivencia. En esa poca exista la ley de la fuga,
que autorizaba a los militares a dispararle a un detenido si intentaba escapar.
Y as se dio que muchos militares dejaban bajar a los presos y luego les dispara-
ban, argumentando que haban intentado fugarse. Mi padre pens, en varias
ocasiones, que esto poda pasarle. Tengo otra imagen en la que un carabinero
le dice: Don Jorge, a usted y a su familia los conozco, no sera capaz de hacerle
dao. Este joven polica le prest dinero y lo fue a dejar a la estacin de trenes
de la ciudad. Mi pap corri por la calle y no s por qu me lo imagino cruzando
las vas de los trenes de Temuco. Desde ah viaj a Santiago sano y salvo.
Quinta fotografa, Santiago
Aqu todos aparecen en Santiago, preparando las posibles vas de escape del
pas. Mi abuela (la nona), viaj a Temuco para rescatar algunos objetos y ropa.
Al llegar se dio cuenta de que las casas contiguas haban sido saqueadas y que
la morada de mi familia estaba llena de basura, libros desparramados y otras
cosas. Haba temor a que las represalias fueran mayores si los militares en-
19
contraban textos o panetos que aludieran al gobierno de la Unidad Popular.
El mismo carabinero que ayud a mi padre a salir de la crcel, auxili a la nona
para ir a la casa y sacar algunas cosas de all.
Sexta fotografa, Santiago, noviembre de 1973
Con la ayuda del obispo luterano alemn Helmut Frenz, mis padres pudieron
salir del pas. Mi madre me cont que ella y mi hermana iban sentadas en el
auto junto al padre Helmut. Atrs, en la maleta, viajaba mi padre. Al entrar a
la embajada alemana los militares miraron a mi madre, a mi hermana y al cura
y, sin preguntar, abrieron la parte de atrs del auto. Por suerte solo vieron las
maletas. Una vez que entraron a la embajada estuvieron a salvo. Mi familia,
junto a otros chilenos, esperaron el vuelo a Hannover, Alemania, dentro de
aquel recinto. Fueron los primeros chilenos exiliados que aterrizaron all.
Hamburgo, la ltima imagen, agosto de 2004
Estoy sentada en el living de mi casa, mirando esta fotografa que ustedes ven
ahora, pensando en Chile. Han pasado varios aos desde el golpe militar. Y de
ese modo ha transcurrido algn tiempo sobre la historia de mi familia. Aun
siendo hija de exiliados, nunca antes pens sobre lo que pasaba en torno a la
fotografa chilena de esa poca. Esto cambi el da en que encontr por casua-
lidad el diario alemn de 1973 donde aparece mi familia llegando a Hannover. A
partir de esta imagen, surgen mis reexiones en torno a la fotografa durante la
dictadura, el foto-documentalismo de un periodo histrico que en diversas for-
mas rescata parte de nuestra memoria familiar y colectiva, privada y pblica.
Fotografa de mis padres y hermana. Hannover 1973.
20
La fotografa documental y la memoria
El acto de registrar implica dejar un documento. John Grierson
1
deni lo
documental desde el cine como un tratamiento creativo de la realidad.
Este tipo de imagen, ya sea en el cine o la fotografa, representa la conciencia
social a travs de la visualidad, creando formas y discursos que remueven e
inquietan al espectador. Devela lo inmediato, validndose como testimonio
y evidencia y, al mismo tiempo, capta a travs del lente el momento esttico
exacto, eminentemente a-histrico. En otro sentido, Martha Rosler, artista y
terica norteamericana, dene la fotografa documental como una esttica
ideologizada: no importa si son imgenes de denuncia o si responden a una
bsqueda personal, pues la fotografa documental siempre tendr un sentido
poltico.
Las dos formas de entender las imgenes documentales, tanto de Grier-
son como de Rosler, permiten comprender que lo documental (en este caso
la fotografa documental) tiene su importancia en la representacin de la ex-
periencia social y poltica de una comunidad, visibilizando as una historia. En
denitiva, toda imagen es documental porque toda fotografa tiene signos y
representaciones.
Sabemos que la fotografa cumple o tiene varias misiones en la construc-
cin de nuestra historia. Una de ellas es mantener un presente continuo en el
tiempo, generando varias lecturas del pasado. Para que esto ocurra, la imagen
debe circular. Ahora, la fotografa que no circula no existe y, en un sentido ms
amplio, podemos establecer que una parte de la historia tampoco. En Chile,
gran parte de la fotografa fue bloqueada y anulada despus del 11 de septiem-
bre de 1973. En sus comienzos fue reprimida por miedo o rechazo a que cum-
pliera su funcin reexiva y crtica. Adems fue utilizada para jar un mundo
falso, como un teln teatral, donde hay dos escenarios: el visible y el invisible.
El visible u ocial nos lo exhibe, por ejemplo, el libro Imgenes 1973, publicado el
2003 por el diario El Mercurio. En una de sus pginas vemos la siguiente foto-
grafa: en primer plano, un militar y su fusil. Al fondo, un grupo de detenidos a
los que les hacen un corte de cabello en la va pblica. El pie de pgina indica:
1 John Grierson fue productor, director, terico y fundador del movimiento documentalista escocs.
Fue uno de los primeros y ms inuyentes documentalistas de la historia del cine. Grierson fue a la
Universidad de Glasgow donde estudi comunicacin antes de decidirse por el cine.
21
Un guardia vigila mientras le cortan el pelo a detenidos. La idea aqu es decir
mediticamente que el militar resguardaba a los prisioneros, dando a enten-
der un cuidado institucional del bienestar pblico.
El escenario invisible se da por aadidura. Es la omisin o lo que no se ve por
carencia de medios opositores. As nos enfrentamos a imgenes silenciadas
y desconocidas. Con esto no digo que no existieran fotografas de oposicin
desde los inicios del golpe militar, sino que enfatizo que en su mayora circula-
ron cuando el rgimen militar haba terminado.
Es en este periodo donde la memoria visual y oral, la fotografa y el re-
lato, se entrelazan. El recuerdo se despliega a partir de historias indivi-
duales: el registro oral que va de persona a persona genera una memo-
ria visual colectiva. Todas estas imgenes que pertenecen a momentos
cotidianos se transforman en realidad cuando aparecen en la esfera pblica.
Esta nocin poltica de imagen-circulacin-memoria se refuerza en tiempos
de regmenes dictatoriales, donde las fotos interpelan testimonios y hechos
silenciados que s circulan; por lo tanto, ejercen un sentido a-histrico en el
tiempo, permitiendo la construccin de la memoria viva.
Evocar el recuerdo relatado, ya sea por testimonios orales o escritos de las
experiencias vividas a inicios del rgimen militar, implica escarbar en un pasa-
do doloroso. Tales recuerdos son imgenes y stas son tambin las primeras
fotografas que pertenecen a la memoria de nuestro pas durante el periodo.
Georges Didi-Huberman arma que la fotografa est asociada de por vida a la
imagen y a la memoria. Yo escribo desde mi memoria y mi historia, a partir de
imgenes relatadas por mi familia. Hago fotografa oral. Investigo sobre la me-
moria de una generacin de personas (padres-hijos) que pas por experiencias
similares a la ma. De este modo, apelo a una memoria e historia comn, que
se va conceptualizando desde el relato fotogrco creado a travs de narracio-
nes visuales contadas por mis padres. Sabemos que muchos de estos momen-
tos nunca pudieron ser fotograados, porque fue imposible hacerlo. Afortuna-
damente, el testimonio oral tambin oper como un dispositivo fotogrco.
La memoria visual de la oposicin fue como el lente fotogrco negado en los
primeros aos de la dictadura. Ya a comienzos de los ochenta aparecieron las
primeras revistas contrarias al rgimen militar, como Apsi, Cauce y Anlisis.
De manera paralela, el miedo se revirti en las calles con protestas y movili-
zaciones a lo largo de todo el pas. Tambin retornaron los primeros exiliados
22
(entre quienes me incluyo), inicindose as un periodo de gran agitacin social y
poltica en el que la fotografa adquiri un estatus relevante para el quiebre del
Estado dictatorial. A partir de estos aos se despleg un pas desde la imagen.
La fotografa poltica femenina durante la dictadura
Mucho se ha discutido sobre si la fotografa documental durante la dictadura
chilena posee un carcter artstico o si es registro puro y duro. Este es un de-
bate que tambin se dio en Estados Unidos y Europa respecto, por ejemplo, de
las imgenes del Holocausto o la Guerra Civil Espaola. Finalmente se asumi
que la fotografa documental mereca ingresar a los museos, con lo que ad-
quiere la condicin de obra de arte.
Para m, el trabajo de los fotgrafos durante la dictadura chilena sobrepasa
el concepto de registro, pues se aprecian fuertes rasgos autorales: cada fot-
grafo tuvo una manera particular de mirar y captar lo que aconteci en la esfe-
ra pblica y privada. Por lo tanto, cada fotgrafo fue un actor poltico.
En este sentido, rescato la nocin de fotografa poltica de Nelly Richard,
donde la palabra poltica constituye una de las mltiples formas de arte que,
en el contexto dictatorial, operaron en el campo minado del lenguaje y de la
representacin (Richard, 2007: 16). De esta manera, la pregunta es la siguien-
te: Cmo opera el lenguaje denunciante-testimonial en la produccin de los
fotgrafos opositores al rgimen poltico dictatorial?
Puesto que incorpora la trizadura del sujeto y su necesidad de recomposi-
cin, toda denuncia es plenamente representativa.
Los aos de dictadura son los aos del terror y tambin los de la transforma-
cin social y cultural. Dicho cambio se intensica en lugares concretos, como
zonas urbanas, especcamente de Santiago. Mientras el grupo artstico
denominado por Nelly Richard Escena de Avanzada, minoritariamente des-
pleg dispositivos simblicos que solo hoy comenzamos a asimilar, una legin
de reporteros grcos testimoni la convulsin santiaguina, ejerciendo un
impacto decisivo para la recuperacin democrtica en el corto plazo. Lejos de
referirse solamente a la represin poltico-institucional, sus imgenes revelan e
incorporan las relaciones sociales y culturales mantenidas en y con la memoria.
Estas fotografas organizan un mapa y un recorrido de la ciudad, estructu-
rado principalmente en torno al centro y las poblaciones perifricas. Al mismo
23
tiempo, nos permiten rastrear los vestigios de la misma, ltrados por las mira-
das que sobre ella dieron sus habitantes o, para ser ms precisos, los artistas
santiaguinos de la fotografa poltica.
Es necesario asimilar la pluralidad de este sector, al menos en funcin
de la dimensin de gnero. En los ochenta, las mujeres comenzaron a tener
una participacin ms activa en la vida pblica del pas. La imagen fotogr-
ca tambin registr e incorpor este proceso y su vivencia. Ms todava, la
mujer como construccin identitaria puede y debe ser reinventada al mirar,
desde la actualidad, la produccin fotogrca de las mujeres en el Chile dic-
tatorial. Las tres fotgrafas que conforman esta publicacin usan el len-
guaje denunciante-testimonial y representan as tres miradas, memorias
y vivencias del periodo. Leonora Vicua brinda una visin urbana nocturna,
entre lo privado y lo pblico, con un fuerte sesgo autoral que discurre entre
lo documental y lo artstico; Helen Hughes redescubre la ciudad a partir de
los cuerpos sociales en todos sus movimientos urbanos; y Kena Lorenzini, re-
corre las calles del Santiago colmadas de gritos y furia.
La fotografa de la solidaridad de Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes encarna la dispora. Oriunda de Oklahoma, Estados Unidos,
estudi en Francia, vivi en la clandestinidad en Per y termin residiendo en
Chile, donde realiz su mayor produccin fotogrca. Su primer encuentro
con la fotografa fue con las imgenes tomadas por la Farm Security Admi-
nistration (FSA), a nes de los aos treinta, en los campos empobrecidos de-
bido a la Gran Depresin. El impacto generado por esas secuencias de cam-
pesinos y tierra yerma generaron su deseo de convertirse en fotgrafa social.
La inuencia de los fotgrafos de la FSA, de hecho, nos permite entender que
las fotografas de Hughes no develen nicamente la historia de un pas en-
vuelto en la violencia, como era el Chile de la dictadura militar, sino que tam-
bin reeje la huella de su propia historia: El retrato de s misma, como dira
Richard Avedon.
Con la nocin de lo residual de Raymond Williams, la tradicin desaparece
para dar pie a lo que qued fuera de ella. Esto es lo que acontece con las foto-
grafas de Hughes: su obra reaparece durante la poca de la transicin, don-
de comienza a adquirir un signicado contemporneo, lindose a la esttica
24
documental norteamericana y difuminando las brechas entre lo testimonial
y lo artstico.
Gran parte de su produccin fotogrca se enmarca dentro de su labor
como reportera grca de la Vicara de la Solidaridad, institucin pertene-
ciente a la Iglesia catlica que apoy las demandas sociales y polticas de la
ciudadana durante la dictadura. Este fue el nico espacio y plataforma para
divulgar fotografas entre los aos 1976 y 1980, aproximadamente.
El golpe militar afect todos los mbitos de la cultura y los lenguajes est-
ticos, provocando otras formas de pensar el arte y la fotografa desde la resis-
tencia. Para algunos intelectuales, una de las formas de creacin fue la produc-
cin clandestina; para otros, la calle. Helen Hughes retrata un Santiago desde
sus silencios y relatos murmurados. Como se ve en la imagen del primer toque
de queda en 1973 (pgina 46); all emerge una ciudad omitida, sin vida, llena de
miedos. Esta imagen forma parte de una construccin social, pues est pre-
sente en los sujetos que vivieron aquel encierro que es recordado al ver esta
fotografa. Ramn Ramos dice que en la memoria se depositan las imgenes
sucesivas de los acontecimientos de la experiencia. En este sentido, esta foto-
grafa representa la memoria del imaginario chileno debido a que el toque de
queda es hoy intangible.
Por otra parte, esta imagen simboliza y devela el aislamiento social, cultu-
ral y poltico que comenzaba a vivir Chile. Giselle Freund plantea que la foto-
grafa, en sus inicios, se revesta de un misterio que le conferira el aura de una
creacin artstica. Este aura se reeja en las primeras imgenes de Hughes,
desplazndolas de la mera denuncia y enunciando as una fotografa con un
sentido esttico de un paisaje. Tal como lo seala un obrero entrevistado por
Pierre Bourdieu, la foto se relaciona con la pintura, pues reeja un poco el ca-
rcter de la persona que la tom.
La fotografa de Hughes representa una visualidad fragmentada y delata los
movimientos del corpus oculto a los ojos del rgimen. El terror permanece y se
aproxima a travs de imgenes de las calles sitiadas. Las fotografas son dismi-
les a la mirada convencional del fotgrafo, porque Hughes cambia la percepcin
de las realidades acontecidas. De la imagen del militar apuntando con el fusil al
cielo (pgina 64) se desprende tal situacin, pero, adnde apunta realmente su
arma? No lo sabemos. La imagen es un testimonio; un testimonio visual captu-
rado por la fotgrafa, conservando de esa manera la imagen del mundo.
25
Son acaso estas fotografas parte de la memoria olvidada de Chile? Si
no conocemos esas fotografas, tenemos un pasado o apenas persiste la
memoria oral contada? Una forma de olvidar la historia es ocultar las fo-
tografas existentes. El soporte fotogrco nos permite hacer que el pa-
sado sea un presente eterno en la memoria de la sociedad. Las fotogra-
fas de Hughes, inditas en la circulacin nacional, forman parte de esta
memoria, a pesar de que se ha instalado un mecanismo de olvido para evitar re-
cordar y pensar en el Chile dictatorial. Sus imgenes son un dispositivo de escri-
tura visual que permitira irrumpir en la posmodernidad fotogrca nacional.
Tzvetan Todorov, sabiamente, dice que saber y dar a conocer es una mane-
ra de seguir siendo humano. En este sentido, toda imagen construye huma-
nidad, como las fotografas de Helen Hughes: imgenes de la memoria social.
El zigzag de la violencia en la fotografa de Kena Lorenzini
La fotografa documental tiene una estrecha relacin con la fotografa perio-
dstica y con los acontecimientos polticos y sociales contingentes. Lorenzini,
al igual que otros fotgrafos de la poca, sali a la calle a registrar la resistencia
a la dictadura de Pinochet en diferentes esquinas urbanas. Las imgenes de
la autora encarnan el bullicio callejero de los aos ochenta desde una mirada
irnica. A diferencia de Hughes, las producciones de Lorenzini quieren denun-
ciar. Ella tambin est inserta en la memoria colectiva, pero ms meditica,
debido a que la autora trabaj en varias revistas
2
y, por lo tanto, algunas de sus
imgenes son ms conocidas.
La denuncia, desde la fotografa, no simboliza solamente un lenguaje tes-
timonial o de registro meramente periodstico; ms bien implica una esttica
y una puesta en escena que permite criticar un acontecer y construir un relato
activo. Algo similar ocurri con el colectivo de arte CADA, contemporneo a
las producciones de Lorenzini. Ellos le imprimieron un sentido social a accio-
nes de arte como, por ejemplo, repartir leche en barrios marginales. En qu
se diferencia la accin de regalar y el gesto de captar la ebullicin social? Esta
dicotoma entre el arte y la fotografa fue establecida con el descubrimiento
y los inicios de esta ltima, cuando no era posible pensar en las fotos como
2 Kena Lorenzini trabaj en las revistas Cauce y Anlisis.
26
un dispositivo artstico. Tal diferenciacin existe an en la actualidad chilena,
sobre todo en relacin a las imgenes polticas del periodo militar, negando de
esta manera una autora en este tipo de imgenes.
Tal como vemos en la fotografa de los carabineros vigilantes (pgina 74), se
establece una irona entre lo que representan los sujetos armados y lo descrito
en el ache publicitario de la obra de teatro. No es sta otra forma de proble-
matizar, desde una esttica visual, lo que aconteca en las calles sin tener que
mostrar, de una manera ms directa, el horror y el miedo de la poca?
Coleccionar fotografas es coleccionar el mundo, nos dice Susan Sontag. En
ese gesto aparece, como dice Elizabeth Jelin, el culto al pasado. Al coleccionar/
archivar todo tipo de imgenes nos aproximamos al campo de la cultura de la
memoria, trmino acuado por Andreas Huyssen que insina un vasto univer-
so de smbolos y prcticas sociales. Las fotografas se apropian de las imge-
nes diluidas en el pasado, reapareciendo en el presente, como ocurre con las
imgenes de Kena Lorenzini.
La imagen aludida sugiere aquello de lo cual habla Georges Didi-Huber-
man: la tensin entre tomar nota en secreto y tratar de memorizar el mximo
de cosas. No es esto lo que vemos en esta imagen? La fotografa es un acon-
tecimiento visual que memoriza lo que olvidamos, plasmando en un tiempo
innito el devenir. Esta fotografa obliga al espectador a imaginar y a repensar
su signicado desde su propia experiencia. Esta resignicacin de la imagen
es inexistente en la fotografa meditica, ya que sta no se detiene a pensar
sino que observa desde lejos, en minutos, segundos, el acontecer inmediato.
No medita acerca de la realidad que est retratando. Lorenzini, en cambio, evi-
dencia un presente que no quiere mirar.
La imagen que muestra al ex dictador dando un discurso (pgina 87) evoca
los delirios del pasado. Esta fotografa es un retrato de lo que ya no est, pero
que no se debe olvidar. El retrato subraya lo que deseamos que prevalezca en el
tiempo, en el lbum poltico chileno, sugiriendo que nuestra memoria se ase-
meja, por momentos, a un campo minado.
Intimidacin e intimidad en la fotografa de Leonora Vicua
Hasta aqu hemos abordado la fotografa documental social de Helen Hughes
y la fotografa documental poltica de Kena Lorenzini. Estas dos formas de len-
27
guaje fotogrco retratan los silencios y las ironas de la calle. Leonora Vicua,
por su parte, nos habla del mundo ms privado del Chile dictatorial, es decir,
de lo cotidiano.
Por qu no hablar de una fotografa documental artstica en la obra de Vi-
cua? Si lo documental se reere a la exploracin de las distintas prcticas cul-
turales y sociales de los sujetos, y el arte es una expresin del ser humano para
reejar su visin del mundo, entonces nos encontramos que en la produccin
de Vicua convergen ambos soportes.
Era muy caracterstico que, en sus inicios, los retratos fotogrcos en blan-
co y negro fuesen coloreados. Tal prctica estuvo instalada en la fotografa
chilena, sobre todo en el campo. Vicua, a modo de representar y visualizar
una prctica de la esttica rural en la urbanidad cotidiana santiaguina, trabaj
justamente coloreando momentos tan sutiles como la conversacin entre dos
hombres en el hipdromo.
Dnde se reeja el dolor y el terror en estas imgenes? No los percibimos
directamente, pues, a pesar de los acontecimientos de la poca, existan algu-
nos momentos de esparcimiento. As, su registro no devela necesariamente
una frivolidad de la fotgrafa; al contrario, delata prcticas clandestinas o ac-
tividades permitidas polticamente por el rgimen militar como una suerte de
paliativo o blsamo las mismas carreras de caballos con el n de invisibili-
zar lo que realmente ocurra en el pas.
La fotografa de Vicua penetra en un mundo en el que estaba prohibido
hablar, juntarse y asociarse. Sin embargo, la dictadura no fue capaz de reprimir
todo, como la vida de los poetas (pgina 111). La clandestinidad no corra solo
para los militantes de izquierda; tambin era una realidad para el intelectual,
el que hablaba, opinaba y manifestaba su rechazo ante un sistema impuesto
a la fuerza. Las fotografas de Vicua deletrean ese tipo de experiencias. De
lejos, sus imgenes parecen una fantasa pictrica, impensable para la poca,
pero lo que muestran, verdaderamente, es una realidad oculta, disfrazada, en
cada fotografa.
As como Kena Lorenzini y Helen Hughes nos retratan un Santia-
go doloroso, asustado, Leonora Vicua obliga a pensar en nuestra pro-
pia historia desde una infancia, adolescencia y mayora de edad vivida
entre cuatro paredes. Lo imaginable se vuelve palpable, presente en las
conversaciones de personajes cotidianos y serenos, que parecieran no
28
experimentar el miedo (lo que no signica, por cierto, que no haya estado
presente). Esta situacin hace difcil situar las fotografas de Vicua en un
tiempo especco. Porque, estn en realidad sus personajes sentados en un
bar? Se trata de una escena en pleno rgimen militar? Todava ms: son las
fotografas de Leonora Vicua atemporales? (pgina 118).
La obra de Vicua es fronteriza con la pintura, con la asociacin de lo irni-
co y absurdo de la imagen dentro de la imagen. Ella reitera el encuadre del en-
cuadre (foto citada, donde se ve el cuadro de Paul Czanne Los jugadores de car-
tas en la pared) e integra, adems, la vanguardia de las artes de aquel periodo.
Las fotografas de Leonora Vicua sin duda son de carcter documental, pero
la intervencin del lenguaje pictrico juega un rol determinante, plenamente
autoral, en las escenas que fotografa.
29
Bibliografa
Barthes, Roland. La cmara lcida. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1982.
Benjamin, Walter. La Obra de Arte en la poca de su Reproductibilidad Tcnica. En Sobre
la fotografa. Valencia: Pre-Texto, 2004.
Bourdieu, Pierre. Un arte medio (ensayo sobre usos sociales de la fotografa). Mxico/Sacra-
mento: Nueva Imagen, 1979.
Didi-Huberman, Georges. Imgenes pese a todo. Memoria visual del Holocausto. Barcelona:
Paids, 2004.
Eco, Umberto. Prembulo, en Academia Universal de las Culturas, Qu recordar? Barcelona:
Granica, 2002.
Ferrer, Rita. Yo, fotografa. Santiago de Chile: La Hetera, 2003.
Flusser, Vilm. Hacia una losofa de la fotografa. Mxico: Trillas, 1990.
Fontcuberta, Joan. El beso de Judas. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1997.
Fontcuberta, Joan. Esttica fotogrca. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2003.
Foster, Hal. El retorno de lo real. Madrid: Akal, 2001.
Freund, Gisle. El mundo y mi cmara. Buenos Aires: ARIEL biografas y memorias del siglo
XX, 2008.
Jelin, Elizabeth. Los trabajos de la memoria. Madrid/Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2002.
Gonzlez Flores, Laura. Fotografa y pintura: dos medios diferentes? Barcelona: Gustavo Gili,
2005.
Halbwachs, Maurice. La memoria colectiva. Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza,
2004.
Kay, Ronald. Del espacio de ac. Santiago de Chile: Editores Asociados, 1980.
Krauss, Rosalind. Lo Fotogrco. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2002.
Meiselas, Susan. Chile from withim. Londres: W.V Norton & Company, 1990.
Ribalta, Jorge (ed.). Efecto real (debates posmodernos sobre fotografa). Barcelona: Gustavo
Gili, 2004.
Sarlo, Beatriz. Tiempo pasado. Cultura de la memoria y giro subjetivo. Una discusin. Captulo 2:
Sujeto y experiencia. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2005.
Sontag, Susan. Sobre la fotografa. Barcelona: Edhasa, 1980.
Sontag, Susan. Ante el dolor de los dems. Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 2003.
Ramos, Ramn. Maurice Halbwachs y la memoria colectiva. Revista de Occidente, 100,
septiembre de 1989.
Richard, Nelly. Mrgenes e instituciones. Arte en Chile desde 1973. Santiago: Metales Pesados,
2007.
Valds, Adriana. Memorias visuales, Arte contemporneo en Chile. Santiago: Metales Pesados,
2006.
31
La memoria como semntica de la oscuridad
rCr L~Lr~ cC:z~LLz
Ante un libro como ste surge un primer argumento relativamente obvio y
comn: aquel que dice que despus de un tiempo de ruptura social violenta y
forzada, como el que se dio en Chile entre 1973 y 1990, cualquier iniciativa de
restauracin de la memoria social no solo es necesaria, sino imperiosa. As,
este esfuerzo de Montserrat Rojas Corradi de publicar estas series fotogr-
cas de Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini y Leonora Vicua producidas durante la
poca de la dictadura encuentra su justicacin en la balanza de la historia: al
hueco en la memoria causado por la censura o la autocensura imperante en
ese tiempo, se opone hoy un gesto activo de recuperacin de eso que juzga-
mos perdido.
Y si bien lo anterior resulta cierto en general, considerar sus aspectos par-
ticulares hace que surjan algunas interrogantes en torno a la memoria en s.
Qu es la memoria social, en el caso de una sociedad como la chilena, profun-
damente dividida a raz de acontecimientos sociales traumticos? Si supone-
mos que una parte de sta se ha perdido, de qu modo se restituye y a quin
a qu agentes sociales corresponde tal accin de recomposicin? Qu
funcin tiene esa recuperacin en la salud psquica y social de la comunidad
actual, un grupo social que se ha transformado y recompuesto a lo largo de tres
dcadas? Y si consideramos que las fotografas que hoy publicamos se hicieron
hace tanto tiempo, cul es su sentido en el presente, con respecto a aquel que
tenan originalmente? Cmo y en razn de qu pueden ser comprendidas por
las generaciones que nacieron en el exilio o despus del golpe?
Por lo general, entendemos los recuerdos compartidos como un elemento
de cohesin grupal o social: conjuntamente con las costumbres, la alimenta-
cin, el vestido y los ritos, las memorias compartidas constituyen el material
del que se construye la identidad de una comunidad. Y si bien normalmente no
32
cuestionamos el hecho de que esa identidad es una construccin ideolgica
impuesta a una parte de la comunidad por otra, que ostenta el poder polti-
co, econmico y cultural, en el caso de un evento traumtico, los nexos entre
identidad y memoria quedan expuestos: la violencia no se maniesta solo ex-
plcitamente y a travs de acciones visibles, sino por medio de formas tcitas
de comunicacin social, como las imaginarias. As, la comunidad no solo queda
escindida fsicamente, sino tambin en el mbito de lo simblico: los vnculos de
una parte de la comunidad con su memoria quedan rotos. Se rompe la supuesta
homogeneidad de la memoria social que constituye el eje de la identidad.
Por lo anterior, es evidente que durante el tiempo de la dictadura ambos
grupos el que usurp el poder y el que qued sometido a ste desarrollaran
una relacin radicalmente diferente con la memoria de los hechos: mientras
que para el primer grupo resultaba imperativo proponer un nuevo imaginario
que sustituyese al anterior y que implantase nuevos referentes de orden y ra-
zn, para el segundo recordar resultaba un proceso extraordinariamente do-
loroso. Porque si al recordar volvemos a ver y a sentir, por qu retomar aquello
que causa tanto dolor? Por qu volver a ver aquello que deshizo nuestros afec-
tos y destruy nuestras vidas, cambiando nuestro destino para siempre?
Cierto es que no solo una buena parte de los chilenos, sino de otros pue-
blos que han debido exilarse, se proponen olvidar. Con el n de construirse una
nueva vida en otro lado y de adaptarse a ella, se programan para reprimir el re-
cuerdo de aquello que duele y que reere a una prdida. En el lugar de acogida,
cambian su acento, su modo de comer e, incluso, se construyen nuevos nexos
familiares.
Y las imgenes? En todo este proceso, qu pasa con aquellas fotografas
que contienen esos pequeos datos tan concretos y punzantes que constitu-
yen el nodo del pasado perdido? Y con aquellas que se producen durante la he-
catombe personal o social y que constituyen el testimonio del dolor mismo?
No hay una respuesta nica a las preguntas anteriores, sino una mirada de
reacciones posibles ante las imgenes que reeren a la prdida. Mientras que
unos deciden destruir el lbum familiar o guardarlo en un lugar inaccesible y
recndito, otros lo llevan siempre consigo, estn donde estn. Muchos reque-
rirn un buen tiempo despus de la crisis para comenzar a manejar conscien-
temente el trauma y, entonces, ver las imgenes. Y otros ms ste es el caso
de la generacin de Montserrat Rojas necesitarn hacer suyas las imgenes
33
perdidas por sus padres y abuelos para poder imaginar y reconstruir su genea-
loga afectiva.
Como muchos tericos han explicado, el sentido ritual de estas acciones
deriva del poder cultural de la fotografa: al constituir una emanacin tangi-
ble de lo vivo, la imagen fotogrca provoca una respuesta cuasi animista, no
exenta de morbo: la de ver algo que parece ser en lo que ya no es. Y si en cualquier
fotografa ese ya no es reere a todo hecho pasado, cuando remite a lugares,
tiempos y personas que nos han sido arrancados con violencia, el no ser adquie-
re visos sombros o aciagos: la imagen funciona como la prueba fehaciente de
aquello que no debi ser pero que, sin embargo, fue.
Y aqu debemos acotar algo en relacin con aquello que han dicho otros
sobre todo Andreas Huyssen sobre la memoria social de los pueblos en
exilio: que sta funciona fundamentalmente en torno al eje de la nostalgia.
1

Ciertamente, no solo las comunidades en migracin, sino todos nos relacio-
namos con la imagen a partir de la nostalgia: todas las imgenes, en gene-
ral, podran entenderse como presencias-en-ausencia. La diferencia esencial de
la fotografa con otro tipo de imgenes es su relacin de contingencia con lo
material y existente: de ah que, en el caso de hechos violentos como la Shoah
que estudia Didi Huberman,
2
o la migracin forzada de Huyssen, la fotografa
constituya un objeto cultural que rebasa, por mucho, la dimensin de lo in-
teligible. Ms que nostalgia, hay melancola y, detrs de sta, una profunda
rabia: la presencia-en-ausencia nos obliga a enfrentar un hueco en la memoria
no considerado por la historia.
Aqu debo referirme a la funcin documental de la fotografa de la que ha-
bla Montserrat Rojas en su texto de presentacin y de cuya relevancia hist-
rica no dudo: como sugiere ella, para las generaciones como la suya es nece-
saria la reconstitucin de la historia a partir de estos documentos faltantes
que son las fotografas de Hugues, Lorenzini y Vicua. Pero tambin considero
imperioso introducir aqu la diferencia entre historia y memoria propuesta por
Maurice Halbwachs en su libro seminal La memoria colectiva:
3
la historia es una
1 Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford, Stanford
University Press, 2003.
2 Georges Didi-Huberman, Imgenes pese a todo. Memoria visual del Holocausto. Barcelona, Paids,
2004.
3 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory (1950). Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1992, p. 38.
34
memoria muerta, una manera de preservar un pasado con el que ya no tene-
mos una relacin orgnica y experiencial. Desde un enfoque sociolgico ms
cercano a la psicologa que a la epistemologa, Halbwachs se decanta a favor
del valor de la memoria como una funcin activa y signicativa de la psique
social por oposicin al de la verdad historiogrca. Si seguimos el argumento
de Halbwachs y lo aplicamos a la fotografa, comprenderemos que el valor de
sta como fuente de memoria social rebasa su capacidad documental: ms
all de sta, es la funcin fantasmal de la fotografa la que se activa y exacerba
con el trauma de la prdida y la distancia.
La dimensin fantasmal de la fotografa conlleva una funcin de sta
como exorcismo. Si traemos a nuestra atencin las imgenes de lo que fue
(y que, en este caso, dej de ser por razones violentas) no es solo para in-
tegrar lo reprimido y para poder manejar el trauma, sino, sobre todo, para
exorcizar la posibilidad de que eso vuelva a suceder. La direccin de la ener-
ga afectiva que desplegamos ante las fotografas que remiten a un pasado
traumtico, de prdida, no apunta solo hacia el pasado: la energa ms im-
portante es aquella que se dirige hacia un futuro en el que no queremos ver
repetido el pasado.
El efecto de nuestro manejo afectivo de la imagen es triple: si bien ine-
vitablemente remite al pasado perdido (la nostalgia de Huyssen), tambin
implica procesos afectivos que se dan en el presente (la memoria activa de
Halbwachs) y que, sobre todo, apuntan hacia un futuro posible (la funcin
de exorcismo de Didi Huberman). Que el detonante de la memoria social sea
el dolor es sumamente importante ya que, si como seala Halbwachs, toda
memoria es social (i.e., es un discurso que se construye solo y en relacin con
la comunidad), en este caso, el de una comunidad fracturada y exilada, el pro-
ceso mnmico es el del enfrentamiento social del dolor. El nexo que une a los
individuos, que procura su cohesin e identidad social, es de signo negativo.
Quisiera proponer aqu la idea de una semntica de la oscuridad para
entender las fotos de Hugues, Lorenzini y Vicua: en lugar de una identidad
luminosa, que se expresa racional y abiertamente la claridad, el sentir
compartido a que hacen referencia las fotos es el de lo escondido, censurado
y oscuro: aquello que se expresa a travs de signos indirectos, mediante sub-
terfugios, a pesar de la represin y la prohibicin, como seala Huberman en
el caso de las fotos de testimonio del Holocausto.
35
En el caso de Hugues, por ejemplo, la censura y autocensura imperante en
la dictadura se expresan en una caracterstica comn en sus fotos: las perso-
nas retratadas miran hacia lados diferentes, sin cruzar miradas entre ellos o
con nosotros. Juntos en el encuadre de la foto pero separados en un espacio
de autocontemplacin ensimismada, los hombres, mujeres y nios retratados
por Hugues son la muestra viviente del rgimen de la sospecha, en el que toda
comunicacin se convierte en un riesgo potencial. En el mbito de la oscuridad
y la suspicacia parecen decirnos las fotos de Hugues, las diferencias entre
verdugos y vctimas se vuelven opacas, poco perceptibles: por ello sus retrata-
dos, aunque melanclicos, parecen estar siempre alertas. Tambin Lorenzini,
en su entrevista aborda las consecuencias tremendas del rgimen de la sos-
pecha: en su imaginacin negativa de aquellos primeros das de la dictadura,
incluso su hermana pequea podra convertirse en ese otro que odia.
A diferencia de muchas de las fotografas periodsticas de la poca, que
pueden leerse ms fcilmente en tanto aluden directamente a los hechos vio-
lentos de ese tiempo, en estas series de fotografas el sentido se maniesta
tcitamente, a travs de signos complejos, indirectos u obtusos como dira
Roland Barthes, a travs de lo que no est en las fotos pero que debera estar
en ellas: en la ciudad vaca de habitantes y sonidos del toque de queda retrata-
do por Hugues o en la ausencia de sonrisas y color y por tanto de alegra, de
vida en las fotos de Vicua.
En estas fotografas, ver se convierte en algo problemtico: mientras que
para unos la mirada es sinnimo de control (el hombre de los prismticos de
Hugues), para otros, la visibilidad signica una extrema vulnerabilidad: de ah,
las miradas esquivas o parapetadas tras cristales o barricadas callejeras. De
ah, tambin, el valor extraordinario de Hugues de retratar la captura de un
hombre, que est siendo empujado al interior de un carro celular la noche
como cobijo de acciones que se niegan, el ash de Hugues como dedo sea-
lador de la verdad o el complejo discurso de Lorenzini en torno a la visin en
aquella fotografa en la que un joven manifestante est siendo golpeado ante
la mirada de los transentes y de un par de fotgrafos que testimonian la
accin.
Quin ve y para qu? Mientras que la imagen de Hugues del hombre con
prismticos podra constituir la conrmacin de aquellas teoras de la cen-
tralidad de la visin occidental y masculina, todo abarcadora y controladora,
36
otras imgenes del libro las de las manifestaciones callejeras de Lorenzini,
por ejemplo socavan la mirada a partir de una subjetividad alternativa: no la
alteridad de gnero (no queremos sugerir aqu la manifestacin de una sensi-
bilidad genrica), sino la posicin diferencial de un sujeto que, en razn de su
posicin de subordinacin al orden impuesto, inevitablemente mira desde una
perspectiva divergente. Como contrapunto de la mirada dominante y avasa-
lladora de quien ha tomado el control, hay otra(s) mirada(s) mediante la(s) que
se construye un relato alterno: la de los hombres, mujeres, jvenes y nios que
existen en una periferia social real o autoimpuesta. Ms all de la nostalgia de
la que habla Huyssen o de la patente melancola de los retratados por Hugues
o Vicua, es la oscuridad lo que marcara la mirada del exilio. Y aqu me reero
no solo al exilio real de quienes optaron por salir del pas, sino al exilio simbli-
co de aquellos que continuaron viviendo en l pero que eligieron el silencio (y la
oscuridad). Aquellos y aquellas que sobrevivieron en la resistencia.
Es ese concepto el de la resistencia el que nos sirve para comprender
otra cualidad de esa semntica de la oscuridad que se desprende de las foto-
grafas de este libro. Problemticas en su relacin con lo visible, estas imge-
nes tambin se caracterizan por una retrica no lineal e imprevisible. Son den-
sas y complejas (obtusas, nuevamente, en el sentido de Barthes) y no se dan
fcilmente al espectador: para comprender su sentido, ste ha de hacer un es-
fuerzo por ver ms all de lo representado: como una persona en la oscuridad,
ha de abrir muy bien los ojos para empezar a distinguir qu tiene delante. Pero
ver en la oscuridad no radica en solo identicar formas y acciones, sino tam-
bin afectos y signos implcitos: aquellos fantasmas presentes y pasados que
surgen de nuestras limitaciones, nuestros miedos, nuestros odios.
Para guiarnos en la oscuridad tenemos que hacer lo mismo que hicieron
Hugues, Lorenzini y Vicua cuando tomaron las fotografas: persistir a pesar
del dolor que se siente dentro y delante. Siguiendo a Ernst Jnger en su expli-
cacin Sobre el dolor entenderemos que mientras algunos (probablemente los
ms) intentemos escapar al dolor y olvidar, otros pocos (los heroicos, dir
Junger) enfrentarn el pasado aun a costa del dolor que implica su memoria.
4

Es una posicin mejor que la otra? A esta pregunta no hay una respuesta
correcta: todo depender de la situacin individual, familiar o comunitaria, y
4 Ernst Jnger, Sobre el dolor. Barcelona, Tusquets, 1995.
37
de la posicin relativa de sta con respecto al lugar, espacio o problema pre-
sente. As, puede darse el caso de que una generacin la que vivi el evento
traumtico intente alejarse fsica o psquicamente y olvidar, mientras que
la siguiente la que hereda el trauma busque conocer y conectarse con lo
que pas. ste es el caso de Montserrat Rojas, a quien le toc nacer en el exilio,
como muchos chilenos de su generacin.
Es fcil reconocer la necesidad de publicar estas imgenes a modo de una
restitucin moral de la memoria perdida o arrancada a una generacin de chi-
lenos. Ms difcil es ver qu hay en las fotos y qu signica para una y otra parte
del conicto. Este libro es, al mismo tiempo, un problema y una esperanza: por
un lado, desenterrar lo reprimido e intentar iluminar la oscuridad a pesar del
dolor y, por otro, comprender aquello que nos une a otros y exorcizar, junto con
ellos, nuestros demonios comunes.
39
La perseverancia de Mnemsine
rCr i~riC iC:sLc~
A diferencia de lo que podramos suponer, la madre de las Musas no es la inspi-
racin, sino la Memoria. La inspiracin precede al talento y el ocio, es como un
hlito divino, el efecto de un trance que bordea la locura. Las Musas, en cam-
bio, son ms contenidas y diligentes, no obstante sus afanes no se plasman sin
la concurrencia de la inspiracin. La Memoria, Mnemsine, es quien concibe a
las Musas en sus amores con Zeus, en Pieria, al pie del Olimpo; con el tiempo
se asume que ellas son nueve, a quienes en algn momento Hesodo les pone
nombre, pero nada ms sencillo que llamarlas Mneiae recuerdos, evocacio-
nes, como Plutarco seala que fueron identicadas en ciertas regiones. En
un principio, ninguna de las Musas patrocina a las artes ni a las ciencias, venga
al caso consignar; son el canto, la danza, la belleza y la simpata, la celebra-
cin y el deleite sus mbitos de inuencia, aunque pronto se las acomoda a ex-
presiones artsticas ms contingentes, as como a la historia, a la astronoma.
Atentas pupilas de Apolo, soberbias como l, las Musas castigan la hibris de
quienes osan desaarlas. En uno de sus mitos, despiertan la pasin a la vez que
la envidia del joven Tamiris, quien decide competir con ellas para, de vencer,
poseerlas, mas lo dejan ciego antes de siquiera escucharlo. Ya no puede ver, ...
pero diosas, oigo vuestro canto replica l con trgica dignidad, camino a en-
contrarse con Tiresias y Edipo, quizs con Homero, los ciegos insignes.
Tambin segn Hesodo, unirse con Mnemsine, la Memoria, le
permita a un rey o a un poeta hablar con autoridad. De modo que cuando
Mnemsine se une con Zeus, rey de los dioses del Olimpo, por nueve noches
consecutivas y da a luz en un parto mltiple a sus hijas (una de las muchas
versiones), queda establecida la preeminencia de la Memoria en todo lo que
se ha de hablar, por no decir en todo lo que se ha de hacer. Prontamente estas
40
hijas se encargarn de recordar y evocar lo acontecido as como lo establecido,
cantndolo, recitndolo, ocupando su encanto, su belleza, sus privilegiadas
voces que no tienen competencia ni la admiten. En su evolucin pasarn a
conservar la fuente de los conocimientos y los modos de desarrollarlos, para
asignarse con el tiempo las disciplinas que hoy las identican.
La insondable latitud de la Memoria es a la vez generosa e implacable. Cada
acontecimiento est integrado por un conjunto dinmico de estmulos y conse-
cuencias que le permiten al hecho en s otar en los vaivenes de su contexto, nu-
trindose de argumentos y descargos pertinentes que muchas veces se imbri-
can con los argumentos y descargos de otros acontecimientos en un aparente
sinfn, hasta que empezamos a percibir el color que viene tiendo las hojas dis-
persas de esta cebolla metafrica y podemos aproximarnos a la lmina cuya in-
tensidad nos sugiere que fue el pivote de lo sucedido. El colorear, se ha visto en la
ciencia, permite trazar la identidad y el comportamiento de las cosas, y tal es el
proceder de la Memoria, si bien en su caso el color surge de manera espontnea
apenas se inicia la evocacin, algo que nosotros no nos permitimos ver sino ms
adelante, acostumbrados como estamos a liderar la induccin de todo. La Me-
moria es preeminente a cuanto hagamos o digamos, segn lo entendi desde
un comienzo el propio Zeus, y ser ella quien, llegado el momento y de acuerdo
a lo acontecido, convoque a las Erinias, las perseguidoras, para que cobren las
cuentas morales, las de indelidad o las de sangre (la trada la propone Virgilio),
no obstante intentemos alentar sus mejores nimos recibindolas como las Eu-
mnides, las benvolas. Largo saben de esto corruptos, fornicadores y tiranos.
Mas la Memoria no es solo registro de crmenes a ser castigados por las grie-
gas Erinias o las romanas Furias. Su innita vigilia contiene el sueo de todos y
cada uno de los acontecimientos devenidos en la historia del hombre desde que
en inmemorable poca pudo coordinar por primera vez la mente con el corazn
y la mano, y hacerse responsable. Recorrer estos extensos horizontes es tarea
de cada uno en la conformacin de su identidad particular y su identidad social,
pero es tambin deber de aquellos dotados con una mirada perspicaz el ayudar-
nos a no olvidarlos con sus espejos de luz.
Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini y Leonora Vicua son tres fotgrafas que atesti-
guaron y registraron el pasado cuando era presente y desde entonces lo traen
por delante hacia el futuro. En los distintos espacios emocionales de sus vidas
41
de aquel tiempo, mientras discurra la decena de aos que van de 1977 a 1987,
fotograaron el acontecer hostil de la dictadura militar, consignando la perse-
cucin y sus escasos subterfugios. Consignaron la represin y el esfuerzo por
confrontarla de una sociedad confundida en la urgencia de cada da, que poda
ser el ltimo. No fueron las nicas, por cierto, pero s podemos decir que su
mirada lo fue, que su documentacin recab no solo la contingencia objetiva
sino su trasfondo subjetivo, en donde los protagonistas de sus imgenes re-
ejaban la perplejidad de haber traspuesto el instante previo y seguir all. Sus
rostros son as los del momento preciso y los del momento despus, ese que
muchos fotgrafos de prensa obviaban en pos del prximo acontecimiento,
dejando atrs el sentido de lo sucedido, el que solo se completa cuando un ges-
to da cuenta de la repercusin sensible de una accin o una reaccin. Sea sta
mediata o inmediata, sea la sonrisa entre sorprendida y cmplice de una nia
ofreciendo dulces frente a una barricada humeante (Lorenzini, pgina 91), la
mirada divagante de una parroquiana en el hiato del toque a toque (Vicua,
pgina 103) o la actitud de un tro de curiosos asomados en el primer dintel de
una sucesin de puertas ocupadas por militares con las armas en alto (Hug-
hes, pgina 65). Si los fotgrafos de prensa mostraban los eventos, Hughes,
Lorenzini y Vicua recababan adems su impacto ntimo en los protagonistas,
directos o indirectos, activos o pasivos, reejando los esguinces emocionales
de una sociedad desarticulada.
Otras fotgrafas tambin documentaron el pasar marginal de los ciudada-
nos desacreditados de la poca esa inmensa mayora, como Paz Errzuriz,
Ins Paulino o Julia Toro, si bien los registros de Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini
y Leonora Vicua solan desenvolverse en medio del humo de los gases lacri-
mgenos o de los cigarrillos ahogados tras puertas y ventanas clausuradas
al aire de la noche. Estas autoras y tantas ms, con sus particulares nfasis,
representan una vertiente nica de la documentacin cotidiana de aquella
guerra sorda, cuya latencia Hughes, Lorenzini y Vicua desmadejan en los
campamentos y las ollas comunes, en las colas largas para trabajos cortos, en
el ejercicio solapado de la conversacin o la poesa, as como en el copete y
la pichanga que distraen lo ominoso, tanto como las protestas y su represin
lo refrendan apenas pareca esfumarse. Este gnero autnomo, multifocal y
compasivo, en el sentido humanitario del trmino, es la fotografa femenina
durante la dictadura. Provista de una mirada que desglosa el acontecimiento
42
sincrtico de las noticias amplindolo a una exposicin holstica de su trascen-
dencia en quienes las protagonizan, esta fotografa solo puede provenir de la
sensibilidad femenina, frente a la realidad unvoca que suele focalizar el obje-
tivo masculino.
No era fcil esta guerra, la guerra de las identidades de gnero al interior
de la guerra de los gneros fotogrcos al interior de la guerra antirrepresiva.
Recuerda Helen Hughes: Cuando salamos a terreno, yo trataba que la gente
no se jara en m, trataba de desaparecer para que no reaccionaran para la
cmara. Escuchaba lo que le decan al periodista y buscaba contactarme con
la emocin ah, encuadrando para encontrar esa emocin en la foto. A dife-
rencia de las fotos de Hughes (pgina 56), es difcil encontrar entre los fot-
grafos masculinos imgenes con miradas perdidas que los distingan, adems
de aquellas en que ambos, fotgrafos y fotgrafas, registraban el instante
contingente por igual (Hughes, pgina 66). O como relata Kena Lorenzini: Los
colegas no me tenan muy en cuenta, para ellos mis fotos eran ms artsticas.
Pero yo jams me he sentido una artista, el artista tiene una capacidad de abs-
traccin que yo no tengo, yo fotograaba noms. No obstante, a sus fotos del
frente, equiparables a las mejores de cualquier otro (Lorenzini, pgina 73), se
suman sus fotos del lado, exclusivas de su percepcin (pgina 75). Leonora Vi-
cua, en n, registra los bares de noche, territorio eminentemente masculino,
ms an bajo el toque de queda: A veces la gente se quedaba de toque a toque;
otras, esperbamos a que pasaran algunas horas, y nos arriesgbamos a par-
tir caminando para la casa. Haba una puerta especial para irse, la del frente
estaba cerrada (Vicua, pgina 102). En su intento por paliar las fallas tcnicas
de sus tomas en la semipenumbra de aquellos aos, su sensibilidad acab por
colorear la tristeza y devino en un estilo nico (pgina 115).
En el panten grecolatino, la Memoria, as como sus hijas las Musas, y las Eri-
nias, las vengadoras de los crmenes, son todas mujeres. La Historia y la Cultura
son en Occidente, en n, femeninas, y as lo es la Sabidura. No es de sorpren-
derse, entonces, que durante la dictadura militar en Chile hayan sido mujeres
las fotgrafas que consignaron la complejidad de las vivencias de los aconteci-
mientos, en tanto los hombres tendan a correr en pos de ellos, pasando rauda-
mente de uno al otro y al siguiente, sin atenerse mayormente a sus efectos, a
esa colateralidad que a n de cuentas los insertaba en un contexto y desglosa-
43
ba su sentido, dramtico en este caso. La urgencia del frente convoc primor-
dialmente a los fotgrafos, quienes se jugaron el pellejo disparando a quema-
rropa para llevar los hechos al cable y demandar la atencin mundial sobre el
abuso en Chile y la represin de su impugnacin popular. Un joven de 19 aos,
Rodrigo Rojas De Negri, fue quemado vivo mientras intentaba sus primeras
imgenes de la rebelin. Mas esas fotos masculinas, muchas de las cuales cier-
tamente valan mil palabras, requeran del relato complementario que diera
cuenta de sus implicancias en una sociedad dislocada y sin otra esperanza que
no fuera tratar de contener su desmantelamiento. Sin ello, las fotos de prensa
fueron, a n de cuentas, parte de los acontecimientos ms que un reejo de
sus consecuencias. Y si bien el periodismo y las ciencias sociales pudieron paliar
estos vacos con sus textos, las imgenes de las fotgrafas estaban ms cerca
de prescindir de ellos, pues llevaban el relato integral en sus negativos.
El caso es que muchas de estas imgenes femeninas no fueron tomadas en
cuenta. La urgencia de los hechos ahogaba su inmanencia, que era lo que regis-
traron Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini y Leonora Vicua, al igual que otras fot-
grafas ms, durante el oprobio de la dictadura. Sus fotos, en cuanto pudieran
ser masculinas, alcanzaban las pginas de la prensa, pero las dems con suerte
engrosaban archivos documentales, fueran institucionales o peregrinamente
propios, sin ver la luz. Quizs muchas se perdieron as, en su inutilidad objetiva
por ser subjetivas.
No obstante, Mnemsine persevera. No da paso al olvido, aunque sus tiem-
pos parezcan caprichosos y sobrevenga la desazn. Porque la Memoria es den-
sa, no es azarosa ni es fatua por ms que venga conformada por delgadas l-
minas sucesivas que la foto publicada persiste en leer por separado para aliviar
esta densidad. La Memoria se nutre de los argumentos de los hechos, no solo
de su acontecer, y tambin se nutre de sus consecuencias. Es de este modo que
puede llegar al color original que subyace en el origen y que va tiendo cada
hoja de responsabilidades imputables por ms que parezcan apenas percepti-
bles. Y es de este modo que Mnemsine, la Memoria, puede asignar sus tareas
a las Erinias, las Furias, para que cobren las cuentas pendientes devenidas en
los tiempos de impunidad. O eventualmente encomendar a las Eumnides, las
Benvolas, que las perdonen.
Fotografas de
HELEN HUGHES
46
Providencia, Santiago, 1973.
47
Club Hpico, Santiago, 1979.
48
Colegio Francisco de Miranda, Santiago, 1978.
49
Vichuqun, 1982.
50
Conventillo en calle Gay, Santiago, 1978.
51
San Clemente, 1982.
52
Construccin parroquia en Huechuraba, Santiago, 1981.
53
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, 1981.
54
Santiago Centro, 1979.
55
Curic, 1982.
56
Pobladores Nueva Maturana, 1978.
57
San Miguel, Santiago, 1978.
58
Calle Nueva York, Santiago, 1980.
59
Poblacin Los Copihues, Santiago, 1984.
60
Puerto Domnguez, 1979.
61
Baslica del Salvador, Santiago, 1978.
62
Escritorio del padre Andr Jarlan, poblacin La Victoria, Santiago, 1984.
63
Funeral del padre Andr Jarlan, poblacin La Victoria, Santiago, 1984.
64
Santiago Centro, 1983.
65
Calle Agustinas, Santiago Centro, 1983.
66
Primero de Mayo, Santiago, 1979.
67
11 de septiembre, Santiago, 1984.
68
El Monte, 1981.
69
Vichuqun, 1982.
Fotografas de
KENA LORENZINI
72
Bellavista, Santiago, 1984.
73
Puente Alto, Santiago, 1984.
74
Amuntegui, Santiago, 1985.
75
Av. Libertador Bernardo OHiggins, Santiago, 1984.
76
Santiago, 1983.
77
Santiago, 1983.
78
Toma Campamento Cardenal Ral Silva Henrquez, Santiago, 1984.
79
Toma Campamento Cardenal Ral Silva Henrquez, Santiago, 1984.
80
Plaza Italia, Santiago, 1983.
81
Santiago, 1983.
82
Santiago Centro, 1983.
83
Calle Agustinas, Santiago, 1984.
84
Calle San Antonio, Santiago, 1983.
85
Calle San Antonio, Santiago, 1983.
86
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, 1983.
87
Edicio Diego Portales, Santiago, 1986.
88
Santiago, 1983.
89
Santiago, 1984.
90
Santiago, 1983.
91
Santiago, 1983.
92
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, 1987.
93
Playa Ancha, Valparaso, 1987.
94
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, 1983.
95
Teatro Caupolicn, Santiago, 1983.
Fotografas de
LEONORA VICUA
98
Familia Romo, Santiago, 1980.
99
Ta Raquelita, domingo familiar en casa de mis padres, Santiago, 1979.
100
Aburrimiento dominical, Santiago, 1980.
101
Abuela y nieto, Mercado Central de Santiago, 1979.
102
Reservado en Vivaceta, Santiago, 1979.
103
Mujer escribiendo, Bar Jaque Mate de noche, Santiago, 1981.
104
Bar en Cartagena, verano 1980.
105
Bar en Cartagena, verano 1980.
106
Garzn o poeta? Bar El Congreso, Santiago Centro, 1981.
107
La siesta de Don Pinto en el Roland Bar, Valparaso, 1979.
108
Restaurante en los altos del mercado de Valdivia, 1981.
109
Recital de poesa, homenaje a Julio Barrenechea,
Biblioteca Nacional, Santiago, 1981.
110
Jos Mara Memet en el living de su casa, Santiago, 1981.
111
La hora de los poetas, lvaro Ruiz, al fondo Jorge Teillier, Santiago, 1980.
112
Armando Rubio duerme, das antes de su muerte,
Casa de San Isidro, Santiago, 1980.
113
Jorge Teillier delante del Bar Nern, Barrio Vitacura, Santiago, 1980.
114
La Piojera, Santiago, 1983.
115
La Ermita, fuente de soda en Vitacura, Santiago, 1982.
116
Pianista del bar Torres detrs de bambalinas, Santiago, 1981.
117
Buenos Aires Tango Club, Santiago, 1981.
118
Bar El Cabildo, calle Lastarria, Santiago, 1980.
119
Francisco Javier Court fuma, Fundacin JEL, Santiago, 1981.
120
ngel nocturno / Mayor y menor, Santiago, 1980.
121
Inspectores de Impuestos Internos en una pausa, calle San Diego, Santiago, 1982.
123
/
Hughes / Lorenzini / Vicua
Three photographers during the military
dictatorship in Chile
Montserrat Rojas Corradi
Laura Gonzlez / Mario Fonseca
To my grandparents, parents and sister
Montserrat Rojas Corradi
Research for this book lasted ve years and would have been
impossible to successfully nish without the help of specic
people. First, I would like to thank my parents, who agreed to
tell me what they experienced during the rst months after the
1973 coup, and my older sister, who was very young back then
but who has been supportive of me at all times.
I also specially thank photographer Paz Errzuriz, who opened
doors for me in Chile to conduct this research, sharing her
contacts and ideas. This is how I managed to meet the three
photographers featured in this book: Helen Hughes, Kena
Lorenzini and Leonora Vicua, who agreed to become part of
this photographic exploration, sharing what they experienced
during the military regime.
Montserrat Rojas Corradi
Content
To evoke what is absent, by Montserrat Rojas Corradi and Mario Fonseca ............129
Autobiographical notes on imaginary photography,
by Montserrat Rojas Corradi .....................................................................................131
The rst photographs of the family album ................................................................. 132
Memory and documentary photography .................................................................. 135
Political womens photography during the dictatorship .............................................137
The photography of solidarity of Helen Hughes ......................................................... 138
The zigzag of violence in the photography of Kena Lorenzini ..................................... 139
Intimidation and intimacy in the photography of Leonora Vicua ............................ 140
Memory as semantics of darkness, by Laura Gonzlez ...........................................145
The perseverance of Mnemosyne, by Mario Fonseca ............................................. 151
129
To evoke what is absent
This book brings together photographers Leonora Vicua, Kena Lorenzini and Helen
Hughes, who developed a great deal of their work during the dictatorial period, tracing
a visual map of the memory at that time, which in many instances is unknown to present
society. There are certainly few studies that refer to photography during the dictatorship
and that in addition approach an aesthetic from a documentary sense and a gender per-
spective.
This publication aims to shape a new view and new ows centered on photography
at the time, which has been inscribed as part of a lesser eld of artistic work, determin-
ing limited circulation and scant critique of its images. Even Susan Meiselas, a member
of the Magnum agency and editor of Chile from within, referred to the great similarity of
photographs of the dictatorship, suggesting an authorial absence. Such a statement de-
nies the traces followed by each author in her testimonial intent, as well as the authors
particular view of each event, from her aesthetic, political and biographical assumptions,
and from her emotional perception, all of which builds the symbolic connotations every
image carries. If Laura Gonzlez refers to photography as what certies our material real-
ity, by adding the di|erent representations the images inscribe in the cultural eld, we can
nd ourselves before the Chilean cognitive symbolism.
Images were initially made to evoke the appearance of something absent, John Berg-
er says in Ways of seeing. Visible / Invisible remits to the absence of what was seen and not
seen during a time of abandonment, of social and political distance. The photographers
observed and registered from their respective female identities, producing images that of-
ten emerged only by their impact and not their constitution, loaded with exclusive notes,
though not excluding. These photographs were not observed beyond their functional con-
tingency during the military period and were left to be stored in the obtuse memory of the
dictatorship.
Walter Benjamin speaks of the exhaustion of historic memory; in that sense, everyday
life during the Chilean dictatorship tends to vanish in speeches, it goes on to disappear
from memory and current representations. The military period symbolized repression, fear,
130
reclusion, disappearance and death; and in that perspective, everyday situations were can-
celled, as if they were nonexistent or as if it was forbidden to acknowledge them during
moments of harassment and isolation. This publication rescues images that unveil trivial,
dramatic and sublime moments of urban life during the dictatorship, interspersed with
ones that circulated broadly due to their denouncing nature, in which the usual rituals are
displayed in the photographs of these three women.
Leonor Vicua presents a private, intimate world, featuring poets, intellectuals and
bohemians as main characters, who circulated through areas that were common to cit-
izens of that period: bars, diners, homes. Vicua gives shape to a hidden city at a time
of political and cultural restraint, in which she traces symbolic identities that were not
understood at the time. Her photographs became, in fact, timeless. Or better yet: they
remain suspended in time.
In another sense, Helen Hughes reveals crucial encounters of community participa-
tion, testimonies of dramatic events whose full dimension and scope can only be grasped
through her complementary registers. Hughes shy gaze is reected in the shared looks of
the people she portrayed, each one in his introspective horizon, providing silent angles and
dimensions of those social lapses in which deteriorated trades are given a noble treatment
and children trade horror for humor.
Kena Lorenzini directly plays with irony and situational errors; a great deal of her im-
ages are a ctitious scenario of what happened or, paraphrasing Enrique Lihn, of what
even though happened, never happened, but meant to happen. With Lorenzini we cover
the photographic margins in which repressor subjects become gures of the absurd.
Interspersed in these delirious contexts, her anonymous female heroines play leading
roles in the most varied instances of resistance to the regime, be it with a smile, a sign
or a slingshot.
From the real and ctitious scenarios that move dialogues between the image and
the observer, Visible / Invisible aims to present itself as a contribution to the visual his-
tory of Chile.
Montserrat Rojas and Mario Fonseca
Santiago, December 2011
131
Autobiographical notes on imaginary photography
B\ iC:1sLrr~1 rC,~s cCrr~Di
But Im not and never will be English. I know both places
intimately, but I am not wholly of either place. And thats exactly the diasporic experience, far
away enough to experience the sense of exile and loss, and close enough to understand the enigma of
an always-postponed arrival.
Stuart Hall
The feeling of belonging and not belonging to a place manifests itself and is rooted in many
children of the Pinochet dictatorship, who coexist with two cultures, languages and histo-
ries. For me, this issue began with a photograph: it depicts a couple holding a girl in their
arms. The woman holds a bouquet of owers and her head is lowered, which recalls the
famous Piet by Michelangelo. The man, tall, with a melancholic gaze, embraces his wife
and daughter. These are my parents and sister, before I was born. The image was taken in
November 1973 upon their arrival to Hannover, Germany. They were the rst Chilean exiles
and their portrait appeared in the Neue Hannoversche Zeitung newspaper, which read:
Die Chilenen kammen mit leichtem Gepck und schwerer Errinerung (The Chileans ar-
rived with lightweight luggage and heavy memories).
Portraits freeze an instant, a life, a body. I feel that this image is part of me, but now
I also think it allows questions to rise regarding what happened to Chilean photography
during the military regime. Paul Valry stated that there are always biographical elements
at the beginning of any theory. This book, in fact, emerges from the diasporic experience
and ones own memory: the image of my parents, unknown to me for years and published
in the front page of the German newspaper, raised certain questions for me: What were
the di|culties of the circulation of Chilean journalistic photography at the time? Was it a
mere register or are there pieces of authorial character? How does this photography relate
to other visual proposals of the time?
In Chile, this kind of photography fullled the function of acknowledging others. Many
images were taken because of an intimate need to give testimony of what was happening or
132
also motivated by a gradual openness of the platforms opposing the regime. Today, almost
forty years later, they have become symbols of political memory, key pieces of reection and
critique. It should be noted that such type of photography moved for years within the private
sphere, at a family level, thus preventing the formation of a shared visual imaginary.
Now, if this photography is published in a long-lasting media (newspapers report on
here and now, and fade every day), it becomes an experience shared with others. This is what
happened with a large part of the photography produced during the military regime and
which began to circulate during the transition to democracy. With it, interpretations unfold,
which are not perceived in society, and this is why its important to investigate photography
produced during historys silenced moments. An example of this is found in the reection
Georges Didi-Huberman develops in his book Images in Spite of All, which presents a group
of photographs found in Auschwitz. Maybe in Chile there are also images taken from the
torturers point of view, like a dark register unfortunately still unknown of what went
on inside the repressive state organisms. All of this takes us back to the narrow ties between
memory and image: memories pass through our conscience as an image, and this image
operates as a photograph. If memories are photographs, then my parents story, from which
I rebuild my own history, erects itself as a sort of oral photography.
The rst photographs of the family album
Sitting in a soda fountain on Plaza de Armas, or main square, my mother began to tell me
her story and what she had experienced with my father after the military coup. They came
from Via del Mar and had met at Universidad Catlica in Valparaso, where my father was
a teacher, and she was his student. According to the story, a poet (my father) had won
the heart of the most beautiful woman of the port (my mother). After they married, they
moved to Temuco, where my father took a position as director for Inacap (educational in-
stitute) regional headquarters. My older sister was born in the south. According to my fa-
ther, even before the military coup took place people already knew, or at least suspected,
that a strong political event could be on its way. This is why many people were preparing
for it. On the morning of September 11, after learning about rumors in Santiago, my family
hid in the home of acquaintances. My father once told me that the military came to look
for them barely an hour after they ed. During the following days they kept hiding with
friends, until they nally separated: my father went to a shanty town in Temuco, while my
mother, with my sister in her arms, set o| further south, to an uncertain destination.
First photograph, Valparaso, 1973
The photograph shows my mother, father, and older sister, only a year and a half. They
are at a play ground in Valparaso, on a sunny morning. They are waiting for a clandestine
133
meeting. But my mother, who never separated from my older sister, at some point lost
sight of my father. Suddenly, policemen dressed as civilians surrounded him and took o|
with him. Many years later, while we were at the restaurant in Plaza de Armas, my mother
remembered that after my fathers arrest my sister let go of her hand and ran screaming to-
ward him. She did not understand what has happening. Why were those men surrounding
her father? This image evokes an event that today is only registered in the family memory.
Second photograph, Valparaso, 1973
After his capture, my father was transferred to the prison in Valparaso, located near Lar-
ran hill. His memories are blurry. He doesnt know if he was there for one or two days, be-
cause he was blindfolded at all times. He remembers that at some point he was transferred
to the Academia de Guerra (naval war academy), where he couldnt see anything either,
but he heard familiar voices in an adjacent room. The image is dark. Are there photographs
taken inside the naval war academy?
Third photograph, Santiago
My father was taken to a downtown police station. He was blindfolded and only remem-
bers the silence of his cell. He did not see or talk to anyone. My mother remembers a wait-
ress that had waited on my family at a restaurant. She had been imprisoned, apparently,
for stealing something. She remembered the young couple and gave my father a piece of
bread. In a poem he wrote while underground, he evokes this and other prison episodes:
I have felt the happiness of a piece of bread
presented to me by an unknown criminal
or the arrival of a random package
or the restroom visit authorized by the guard
or the good greetings of a policeman
or the crystalline stare of a revolutionary
or the yellow tape on the box of cigarettes
which you gave me
that day I thought I lost your arms forever, and which I kept
far from the guards keys
to see myself in your eyes until the last goodbye.
Fourth photograph, Temuco
My father arrived at a prison in Temuco. Only two policemen guarded him on the way there.
He talked a lot with them, maybe as a kind of survival strategy. At that time the law of ight
was being enforced, which authorized the military to shoot a prisoner if he or she tried to
134
escape. And so it happened that many military let prisoners get o| the ride and then they
would shoot them, arguing that they had tried to escape. Several times, my father thought
this could happen to him. I have another image in which a policeman tells him: Mr. Jorge,
I know you and your family, I would not be capable of hurting you. This young policeman
lent him money and dropped him o| at the citys train station. My father ran down the
street and I dont know why, but I imagine him crossing the Temuco railway. From there he
traveled to Santiago, safe and sound.
Fifth photograph, Santiago
This is everyone is Santiago, preparing the possible escape routes out of the country. My
grandmother (la nona), traveled to Temuco to rescue a few objects and clothes. Upon ar-
rival she realized that the houses next-door had been ransacked and that my familys home
was absolutely littered, books and other things scattered everywhere. There was a fear
that the retaliation could be worse if the military found texts or pamphlets alluding to the
Unidad Popular (left wing, socialist and communist government coalition). The same po-
liceman who helped my father escape prison, helped my nona go to the house and get a
few things.
Sixth photograph, Santiago, November 1973
With the help of German Lutheran bishop Helmut Frenz, my parents were able to leave
the country. My mother told me that she and my sister were sitting next to father Helmut
in the car. My father traveled in the trunk. When entering the German embassy, the mili-
tary looked at my mother, my sister and the priest, and without asking, they opened the
trunk. Luckily they only saw the suitcases. Once they entered the embassy they were safe.
My family and other Chileans, waited for the ight to Hannover, Germany at the embassy.
They were the rst Chilean exiles to land there.
Hamburg, the last image, August 2004
I am sitting in my living room at home, looking at this photograph you are now looking at,
and Im thinking of Chile. Several years have gone by since the military coup. And therefore
time has gone by for my family history as well. Even though I am a daughter of exiles, I never
thought about what happened to Chilean photography of that time. This changed the day
I happened to nd the 1973 German newspaper that shows my family arriving to Hannover.
That image is the starting point for my reections on photography during the dictatorship;
it is the photo-documentary of an historic period, which in many ways rescues part of our
family memory as well as our collective memory, our private and public memory.
135
Documentary photography and memory
The act of registering implies leaving a document behind. John Grierson
1
dened documen-
tary from cinema as a creative treatment of reality. This kind of image, be it in cinema
or photography, represents social conscience through visual nature, creating forms and
discourses that stir and unsettle the spectator. It unveils the immediate, validating itself as
testimony and evidence, and at the same time, uses the lens to capture the exact aesthetic
moment, eminently a-historic. In another sense, Martha Rosler, a North American artist and
theorist, denes documentary photography as an ideologized aesthetic: it doesnt matter
whether the images denounce or if they respond to a personal search, since documentary
photography will always have a political meaning.
Both ways of understanding documentary images, Griersons as well as Roslers, allow
us to comprehend that what is documentary (in this case documentary photography) is im-
portant because it represents the social and political experience of a community, thus mak-
ing history visible. In the end, every image is documentary because all photography contains
signs and representations.
We know photography fullls, or has, several missions in the construction of our
history. One of them is to maintain a continuous present in time, generating various
interpretations of the past. In order for this to happen, the image has to circulate. Yet pho-
tography that does not circulate does not exist, and, in a broader sense, we can establish
1 John Grierson was a producer, director, theorist and founder of the Scottish documentary move-
ment. He was one of the rst and most inuential documentary makers in the history of cinema.
Grierson was a student at the University of Glasgow where he studied communications before de-
ciding in favor of cinema.
Photograph of my parents and sister. Hanover 1973.
136
that neither does a part of history. In Chile, a large part of photography was blocked and
cancelled after September 11, 1973. In the beginning it was repressed for fear or rejection
that it would fulll its reexive and critical function. It was also used to set a false world,
like a theater curtain, where there are two stages: the visible and invisible. The visible or
o|cial one is shown to us, for example, in Imgenes 1973 (images 1973), a book published in
2003 by El Mercurio newspaper. In one of its pages we see the following photograph: close
up, a military o|cer and his rie. In the background, a group of prisoners getting a hair
cut in the street. The caption reads: A guard watches while prisoners get haircuts. Here,
the idea is to communicate that the military o|cer was safeguarding prisoners, implying
institutional care for public wellbeing.
The invisible stage is a given. Its an omission, what is unseen due to the lack of oppos-
ing media. This is how we come to face silenced and unknown images. Im not saying that
there were no opposition photographs right from the beginning of the military coup, but I
emphasize that most of them circulated when the military regime ended.
It is during this period that visual and oral memory, photography and narration, inter-
weave. Remembrance fans out based on individual histories: an oral record that passes
on from person to person generating a collective visual memory. All these images that
belong to everyday moments become a reality when they come forth in the public sphere.
This political notion of image-circulation-memory is reinforced in times of dictatorial re-
gimes, during which photographs question silenced testimonies and facts that do circu-
late; therefore, they exercise an a-historic sense in time, allowing the construction of a
living memory.
Evoking narrated memory, by either oral or written testimonies of what was expe-
rienced early in the military regime, implies digging into a painful past. Such memories
are images and they are also the rst photographs belonging to the memory of our
country during that period. Georges Didi-Huberman states that photography is forever
related to image and memory. I write from my memory and my history, from images
narrated by my family. I produce oral photography. I research the memory of a gener-
ation of people (parents-children) who went through experiences similar to my own.
Thus, I appeal to a common memory and history, which becomes conceptualized from a
photographic narrative created from the visual narrations told by my parents. We know
that a lot of these moments were never photographed, because it was impossible to
do so. Fortunately, oral testimony also operated as a photographic device. The visual
memory of the opposition was like the photographic lens banned during the rst years
of dictatorship. The rst magazines to oppose the military regime, such as APSI, Cauce
and Anlisis, were already being published in the early 80s. At the same time, fear was
reverted to the streets with protests and mobilizations nationwide. Also, the rst exiles
returned (me included), thus starting a period of great social and political agitation in
137
which photography acquired a relevant status in the breakdown of the dictatorial state.
From this time on, image became a point from which a country unfolded.
Female political photography during the dictatorship
Much has been discussed about whether documentary photography during the Chilean
dictatorship possesses an artistic character or if its only a record. This was also debated in
the United States and Europe, for example, regarding images of the Holocaust or the Span-
ish Civil War. In the end it was assumed that documentary photography deserved to be in
museums, with which it acquires the status of art work.
In my opinion, the work of photographers during the Chilean dictatorship goes beyond
the concept of record, since strong authorial features can be appreciated: each photogra-
pher had a particular way of seeing and capturing what happened in the public and private
sphere. Therefore, each photographer was a political actor.
In this sense, I rescue Nelly Richards notion of political photography, in which the
word political constitutes one of the multiple forms of art that, in the dictatorial con-
text, operated within the mined eld of language and representation (Richard, 2007:
16). Therefore, the question is the following: How does the denouncing-testimonial lan-
guage operate in the production of the photographers opposing the dictatorial political
regime?
Since it incorporates the subjects fractures and his/her need to heal, every denuncia-
tion is fully representational.
The dictatorship years were years of terror and social and cultural change. This change
is intensied in concrete places, such as urban areas, specically in Santiago. While the ar-
tistic group Escena de Avanzada (designated by Nelly Richard as the advanced scene), dis-
played a few symbolic devices which we begin to assimilate only today, a legion of photo-
journalists recorded the convulsion in Santiago, producing a decisive impact on the recov-
ery of democracy in the short term. Far from referring only to the political-institutional re-
pression, their images reveal and incorporate the social and cultural relations maintained
in and with memory.
These photographs organize a map and a tour of the city, mainly structured around
the downtown area and the peripheral shantytowns. At the same time, they allow us to
trace the citys remains, ltered through the gaze of its residents, or, to be more precise, the
Santiago artists of political photography.
This sectors diversity needs to be assimilated, at least according to the dimension of
gender. In the eighties, women began to participate more actively in the countrys public
life. The photographic image also registered and included this process and its vital expe-
rience. Furthermore, women as an identity construction can and have to be reinvented,
138
now that we look at the photographic production of women during Chiles dictatorship.
The three photographers featured in this publication use the denouncing-testimonial lan-
guage and represent three memories, experiences and points of view of that period in time.
Leonora Vicua presents a nocturnal urban vision, between the private and public worlds,
with a strong authorial bias that ows between a documentary and art work; Helen
Hughes rediscovers the city from the social bodies and their urban movements; and Kena
Lorenzini walks the streets of Santiago which are bursting with screams and fury.
Helen Hughes photography of solidarity
Helen Hughes embodies the diaspora. Born in Oklahoma, USA, she studied in France, lived
underground in Peru and ended up in Chile, where she produced most of her photography
work. Her rst encounter with photography were the images taken by the Farm Security
Administration (FSA), in the late 1930s, in elds impoverished by the Great Depression. The
impact generated by the photographic series of peasants and barren land sparked her de-
sire to become a social photographer. The inuence of FSA photographers, in fact, allows
us to understand that the photographs of Helen Hughes not only unveil the history of a
country caught in violence, as was Chile during the military dictatorship, but they also re-
ect a trace of her own history: The portrait of herself , as Richard Avedon would say.
With Raymond Williams notion of what is residual, the tradition disappears to give
place to what was left out of it. This is what occurs with Hughes photographs: her work
reappears during the transition to democracy, when it begins to acquire a contemporary
meaning, a|liating itself with the aesthetics of North American documentary and blur-
ring the gap between a testimony and art work.
A great deal of her photographic production is part of her work as a photojournal-
ist of the Vicara de la Solidaridad (vicariate of solidarity), an institution of the catholic
church that supported social demands and citizenship policies during the dictatorship.
This was the only platform open for circulation of photographs between 1976 and 1980,
approximately.
The military coup a|ected all elds of culture and aesthetic languages, provoking other
ways to conceive art and photography from the resistance. For some intellectuals, under-
ground production was one way to create; for others, it was the streets. As seen in the im-
age of the rst curfew in 1973 (page 46); an omitted city emerges, lifeless, full of fears. This
image is part of a social construction, since it is present in the subjects that experienced
the connement, which is remembered when seeing this photograph. Ramn Ramos says
that consecutive images of the events of experience are deposited in memory. In this sense,
this photograph represents the memory of Chilean imaginary since the curfew is today in-
tangible.
139
On the other hand, this image symbolizes and unveils the social, cultural and politi-
cal isolation Chile was starting to experience. Giselle Freund states that photography, in
its beginnings, was covered by a mystery that would bestow an aura of artistic creation
upon it. This aura is reected in Hughes rst images, displacing the mere denunciation and
thus enunciating a photograph with an aesthetic sense of landscape. As pointed out by a
construction worker who was interviewed by Pierre Bourdieu, the photograph relates to
painting, since it reects a little of the character of the person who took it.
Hughes photography represents a fragmented visual nature and it denounces the
movements of the corpus hidden to the regime. Terror remains and comes nearer through
images of the besieged streets. The photographs are dissimilar to the photographers con-
ventional gaze, because Hughes changes the perception of the realities that occurred.
Such a situation is derived from the image of the military o|cer pointing his rie to the sky
(page 64); but what is his gun really pointing at? We do not know. The image is a testimony;
a visual testimony captured by the photographer, thus preserving the image of the world.
Are these photographs part of Chiles forgotten memory? If weve never seen those
photographs, do we have a past or does transmitted oral memory barely persist? A way
of forgetting history is to hide existing photographs. The photographic medium allows us
to transform the past into an eternal present in societys memory. Hughes photographs,
unpublished in local circulation, are part of that memory, despite the fact that a mecha-
nism has been installed in order to forget, to avoid remembering and thinking about the
Chilean dictatorship. Her images are a visual writing device that would allow an invasion
in national photographic postmodernism.
Tzvetan Todorov wisely says that to know, and to let others know, is one way of re-
maining human. In this sense, all images build humanity, as Helen Hughes photographs
do: images of social memory.
The zigzag of violence in the photography of Kena Lorenzini
Documentary photography is closely related to photojournalism and to contingent so-
cial and political events. Lorenzini, like other photographers at the time, went out to the
streets to register the resistance to the Pinochet dictatorship on various urban corners. The
authors images embody the commotion in the street during the eighties from an ironic
perspective. Unlike Hughes, Lorenzinis production wants to denounce. She also is insert-
ed in collective memory, but more media-like so, since the author worked at a number of
magazines
2
, therefore, some of her images are more widely known.
2 Kena Lorenzini worked at Cauce and Anlisis magazines.
140
Denunciation through photography, not only symbolizes a testimonial language or a
mere journalistic register; it implies an aesthetic and a setting that permits criticism of an
event and the construction of an active narration. Something similar occurred with the
CADA art collective, contemporary to Lorenzinis productions. They infused art perfor-
mances with a social sense, such as distributing milk in marginal neighborhoods, for ex-
ample. What is the di|erence between the act of giving and the gesture of capturing social
upheaval? This dichotomy between art and photography was established with the discov-
ery and beginnings of the latter, when considering photographs as an artistic device was
not possible. Such di|erentiation still exists in current Chilean reality, especially in relation
to political images of the military period, thus denying authorship in this type of images.
As seen in the photograph of the watchful policemen (page 74), an irony is established
between what the armed men represent and what is described in the theater poster. Is
this not another way to problematize, from a visual aesthetic, what was happening in the
streets without having to directly show the horror and the fear of the time?
Susan Sontag says that to collect photographs is to collect the world. Elizabeth Jelin
says that in this gesture appears a cult of the past. By collecting/archiving all sorts of im-
ages we come closer to the eld of cultural memory, a term coined by Andreas Huyssen,
that insinuates a vast universe of symbols and social practices. Photographs seize images
diluted in the past, reappearing in the present, as with Kena Lorenzinis images.
The alluded image suggests that of which Georges Didi-Huberman speaks: the ten-
sion between secretly taking note and trying to memorize things to the maximum. Isnt
that what we see in this image? Photography is a visual event that memorizes what we for-
get, rendering the future in innite time. This photograph forces the spectator to imagine
and rethink its meaning from his/her own experience. This re-signication of the image is
nonexistent in media photography, since it does not stop to think but observes immediate
events from afar, in minutes, seconds. It does not meditate on the reality it is portraying.
Lorenzini, instead bears witness to a present she does not want to see.
The image showing the former dictator giving a speech (page 87) evokes the delusions
of the past. This photograph is a portrait of what is no longer there, but must not be forgot-
ten. The portrait underlines what we wish to prevail in time, in the Chilean political album,
suggesting that our memory seems to be, at times, like a mineeld.
Intimidation and intimacy in the photography of Leonora Vicua
So far, we have approached Helen Hughes social documentary photography and the po-
litical documentary photography of Kena Lorenzini. These two forms of photographic lan-
guage portray the streets silences and ironies. Leonora Vicua speaks to us of the more
private world of dictatorial Chile, this is, everyday life.
141
Why not speak of an artistic documentary photography in the work of Vicua? If a doc-
umentary refers to the exploration of peoples di|erent social and cultural practices, and
art is an expression of human beings in order to reect their world view, then we face the
fact that both media converge in Vicuas production.
In the beginning, it was typical for black and white photographic portraits to be col-
ored. This practice was installed in Chilean photography, especially in rural areas. As a way
to represent and visualize a practice of rural aesthetics in Santiago everyday urban life, Vi-
cua worked on coloring subtle moments, such as the conversation between two men at
the racetrack.
Where are pain and terror reected in these images? We do not perceive them di-
rectly, because, despite the events going on at the time, there were also moments of
leisure. Her register does not necessarily reveal frivolity on behalf of the photographer;
on the contrary, she denounces clandestine practices or activities that were politically
allowed by the military regime as a kind of palliative or balm horse races for instance
to silence what was really happening in the country.
Vicuas photography penetrates a world in which speaking, getting together and as-
sociating was forbidden. Nonetheless, the dictatorship was not able to repress everything,
like the life of poets (page 111). Underground life was not just for left wing activists; it was
also a reality for intellectuals, those who spoke, gave their opinions and showed their rejec-
tion towards an enforced system. Vicuas photographs spell out this type of experiences.
From afar, her images seem a pictorial fantasy, inconceivable for that moment in time, but
what they really show is a hidden reality, disguised in every photograph.
Kena Lorenzini and Helen Hughes portray a painful, frightened Santiago, while Le-
onora Vicua forces us to think about our own history from a childhood, adolescence
and adulthood lived within four walls. What is imaginable becomes palpable, present
in the conversations of everyday, calm characters, who seem not to experience the fear
(which certainly doesnt mean it wasnt there). This situation makes it di|cult to place
Vicuas photographs within a specic time frame. Because, are her characters really
sitting in a bar? Is it a scene that takes place in the midst of the military regime? Further-
more: Are Leonora Vicuas photographs timeless? (page 118).
Vicuas work borders on painting, on the association of the ironic and absurd of an
image within an image. She reiterates the framing of the framing (quoted photograph,
where Paul Czannes painting The Card Players can be seen on the wall) and in addition
integrates the arts avant-garde of that time. Leonora Vicuas photographs undoubt-
edly possess a documentary character, but the intervention of the pictorial language
plays a decisive role, fully authorial, in the scenes she photographs.
143
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dar?, (Universal Academy of Cultures, What to remember?), Granica, 2002.
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glo XXI, publisher, 2002.
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Painting: Two di|erent Media?), Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, publisher, 2005.
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Postmodern Debates on Photography), Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, Publisher, 2004.
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Time. The memory of Culture and the Subjectve Turn. A Discussion), Chapter 2: Sujeto y
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Sontag, Susan. Sobre la fotograa, (On Photography), Barcelona, Edhasa, publisher, 1980.
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144
Ramos, Ramn. Maurice Halbwachs y la memoria colectiva, (Maurice Halbwachs and the
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145
Memory as semantics of darkness
B\ L~Lr~ cC:z~LLz
Facing a book such as this, a rst argument comes forth, relatively obvious and common:
after a time of violent, forced social rupture, as the one experienced in Chile between 1973
and 1990, any initiative to restore social memory is not just necessary, but urgent. The ef-
fort made by Montserrat Rojas Corradi to publish the photographic series produced by Hel-
en Hughes, Kena Lorenzini and Leonora Vicua during the dictatorship, is justied by the
scales of history: the hole in memory caused by censorship or self-censorship that prevailed
at the time, is opposed today by an active gesture to recover what we judge to be lost.
And though the above is true as a whole, by considering its particular aspects ques-
tions arise regarding memory itself. What is social memory, in a case such as Chilean society,
deeply divided by traumatic social events? If we suppose that part of memory has been lost,
how is it restored and who what social agents are responsible for such restoration? What
function does restoration have on the mental and social health of the current community, a
social group that has changed and recomposed for three decades? And if we consider that
the photographs we are publishing today were taken so long ago, what meaning do they
have in the present, in relation to the meaning they originally had? How and because of what
can they be understood by generations born in exile or after the coup?
On the whole, we understand shared memories as an element of group or social cohe-
sion: together with customs, food, dress and rituals, shared memories constitute the mate-
rial of which a communitys identity is made of. And though we do not normally question the
fact that this identity is an ideological construction imposed on one part of the community by
another holding political, economic and cultural power, in a case involving a traumatic event,
the connections between identity and memory are exposed: violence is not only explicitly
manifested through visible actions, but through tacit forms of social communication, such
as imaginary ones. Thus, the community is not only physically severed, but also symbolically:
the connections between part of the community and its memory are broken. The supposed
homogeneity of social memory, which constitutes the axis of identity, is broken.
From what is stated above, it is evident that during the dictatorship both groups the
one that usurped power and the one that was subjugated developed a radically di|erent
146
relationship with the memory of the facts: while the rst group strongly needed to pro-
pose a new imaginary that would substitute the previous one and implant new references
for order and reason, the second group found that remembering was an extraordinarily
painful process. Because, if by remembering we see and feel once more, why go over what
causes so much pain? Why look once more at what tore our a|ections and destroyed our
lives, changing our destiny forever?
It is true that not only a large number of Chileans, but also other people that have had
to go into exile, decide to forget. They program themselves to repress the memory of what
hurts and refers to loss in order to build a new life for themselves elsewhere, and adapt to it.
They change their accents, their way of eating, and even generate new family ties.
And what about images? In all this process, what happens with those photographs
that contain small pieces of information, so concrete and incisive that they constitute the
node of a past that is lost? And what happens with those photographs produced during the
personal and social disaster, constituting the testimony of pain itself?
There is no sole answer to the questions presented above, but a myriad of possible
reactions to the images referring to loss. While some people decide to destroy the family
album or keep it somewhere remote and di|cult to get to, others carry it with them, no
matter where they are. Many people will need considerable time after the crisis to begin to
consciously manage the trauma, and then, see the images. And others this is the case of
Montserrat Rojas generation will need to take hold of the images lost by their parents
and grandparents in order to imagine and rebuild their emotional genealogy.
As explained by many theorists, the ritual sense of these actions derives from the cultur-
al power of photography: by constituting a tangible emanation of what is alive, the photo-
graphic image provokes a quasi animist response, not extent of morbid fascination: seeing
something that seems to be in what no longer is. And if in any photograph that which no longer
is refers to every past event, when it remits to places, times and people which have been
violently taken away, not being acquires somber or tragic overtones: the image functions as
irrefutable evidence of what shouldnt have been but, nonetheless, was.
And here we must point out something regarding what many others have said es-
pecially Andreas Huyssen on the social memory of people in exile: that it fundamentally
functions around the axis of nostalgia.
1
Certainly, not only migrating communities, but all
of us relate to image from nostalgia: on the whole, all images could be understood as pres-
ences-in-absence. The essential di|erence between photography and other kinds of images
is its relationship of contingency with what is material and existing: this explains why, in
1 Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory, Stanford
University Press, 2003.
147
violent events such as the Shoah studied by Didi Huberman
2
, or Huyssens forced migration,
photography constitutes a cultural object that overows, by far, the dimension of what is
intelligible. More than nostalgia, there is melancholy, and behind it, deep rage: the pres-
ence-in-absence forces us to face a hole in memory that has not been considered by history.
Here I must refer to the documentary function of the photography which Montserrat
Rojas refers to in her foreword and whose historic relevance I do not question: as she sug-
gests, generations such as her own need to reconstruct history based on these missing
documents that are Hughes, Lorenzinis and Vicuas photographs. But I also think its ur-
gent to introduce at this point the di|erence between history and memory proposed by
Maurice Halbwachs in his seminal book On Collective Memory
3
: history is dead memory, a
way of preserving a past with which we no longer have an organic and experiential rela-
tionship. From a sociological perspective closer to psychology than to epistemology, Hal-
bwachs settles in favor of the value of memory as an active and signicant function of the
social psyche as opposed to historiographic truth. If we follow Halbwachs argument and
apply it to photography, we will understand that the value of photography as a source of
social memory exceeds its documentary capacity: beyond it, it is the ghostly function of
photography, which is activated and aggravated with the trauma of loss and distance.
The ghostly dimension of photography entails a function that works as an exorcism.
If we pay attention to the images of what was (and which, in this case, ceased to be due
to reasons of violence) its not only to integrate what is repressed and be able to manage
trauma, but, above all, to exorcize the possibility of it happening again. The direction of the
emotional energy we display when facing photographs that refer to a traumatic past, that
speaks of loss, not only points to the past: the most important energy is directed toward a
future in which we do not want to see the past repeated.
The e|ect of our emotional management of the image is threefold: even if it irrevocably
refers to a past that is lost (Huyssens nostalgia), it also implies emotional processes that
occur in the present (Halbwachss active memory) and which, above all, point to a possible
future (Didi Hubermans function of exorcism). The fact that social memory is triggered by
pain is signicant, since, as stated by Halbwachs, all memory is social (i.e., it is a discourse
that builds upon itself and in relation to the community), and in this case, which refers to
a broken and exiled community, the mnemonic process is social confrontation of pain. The
connection that unites individuals, that provides social cohesion and identity, is negative.
I would like to propose a semantics of darkness concept to understand Hughes, Lo-
renzinis and Vicuas photographs: instead of a luminous identity, rationally and openly
2 Georges Didi-Huberman, Imgenes pese a todo. Memoria visual del Holocausto, (Images
Despite All. Visual Memory of the Holocaust), Barcelona, Paids, publisher.
3 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory (1950), Chicago, Chicago University Press, pg. 38, 1992.
148
expressed clarity, the shared meaning to which the photographs refer to is what is hid-
den, censored and dark: what is expressed through indirect signs, through subterfuges, de-
spite the repression and prohibition, as Huberman points out when referring to testimonial
photographs of the Holocaust.
In Hughes case, for example, the prevailing censorship and self-censorship during the
dictatorship are expressed in a feature common to her photographs: the people she por-
trays look in di|erent directions, they dont look at each other or at us. Together within
the photographs frame but separated by absorbed self-contemplation, the men, women
and children portrayed by Hughes are living proof of the regime of suspicion, in which all
communication becomes a potential risk. Hughes photographs seem to tell us that in
the sphere of darkness and suspicion the di|erences between executioners and victims
become opaque, barely perceivable: that is why the subjects she portrays, though melan-
cholic, seem to be alert at all times. In her interview, Lorenzini also approaches the terrible
consequences of the regime of suspicion: in her negative imagination of those rst days of
the dictatorship, even her younger sister could become that other she hates.
Unlike many of the journalistic photographs of the time, which can be read more eas-
ily since they directly speak of violent events that took place in that period, the meaning
in these series of photographs is tacitly manifested through complex, indirect or obtuse
signs as Roland Barthes would say, through what is not in the photographs but should
be: in an empty city and the sounds of the curfew portrayed by Hughes, or in the absence
of smiles and color and therefore of joy, of life in Vicuas photos.
In these photographs, seeing becomes a problem: while for some a gaze is synony-
mous for control (Hughes man with the binoculars), for others, visibility means extreme
vulnerability: hence, evasive looks, hidden behind lens or street barricades. Here lies also,
Hughes extraordinary courage to portray a mans capture, as he is pushed into a police van
night serving as a cover for actions that are denied, Hughes ash as a nger pointing at
the truth or Lorenzinis complex discourse centered on vision in the photograph in which
a young activist is being beaten under the gaze of passers by and a couple of photogra-
phers who bear witness to the event.
Who sees, and what for? While Hughes image of the man with the binoculars could
constitute the conrmation of theories on the central quality of male western vision, all
encompassing and controlling, other images of the book -Lorenzinis street manifesta-
tions, for example- undermine the gaze from an alternative subjectivity: not the di|erence
of gender (we do not wish to suggest the manifestation of a generic sensibility), but the dif-
ferential position of a subject who, in reason of his position of subordination under an im-
posed order, inevitably looks from a divergent perspective. As a counterpoint to the domi-
nant and overbearing gaze of whom has taken control, there is another (others) gaze(s)
through which an alternate narration is built: one of men, women, young people and
149
children that exist in a real or self-imposed social periphery. Beyond the nostalgia Huyssen
speaks of or the evident melancholy of people portrayed by Hughes or Vicua, darkness is
what distinguishes the exiled gaze. And I not only refer to the real exile of people who chose
to leave the country, but to the symbolic exile of those who stayed but chose silence (and
darkness). Men and women who survived the resistance.
It is this concept of resistance that serves us to understand another quality of the
semantics of darkness derived from the photographs in this book. These images, which are
problematic in relation to what is visible, are also characterized by a non-linear and unpre-
dictable rhetoric. They are dense and complex (obtuse, again, in the sense Barthes states)
and are not easily grasped by the spectator: in order to understand its sense, the spectator
will have to make an e|ort to see beyond what is portrayed: like a person in the dark, he/
she will need to open his/her eyes wide to distinguish what lies in front. But seeing in the
dark not only means identifying shapes and actions, but also implicit a|ections and signs:
those ghosts, present and past, that rise from our limitations, fears, and hate.
In order to guide ourselves in the dark we need to do the same thing Hughes, Lorenzini
and Vicua did when they took the photographs: persist in spite of the pain felt within and
without. Following Ernst Jnger in his explanation On Pain, we will understand that while
some of us (probably most) try to escape pain and forget, few others, (heroic ones, Jnger
would say) will face the past even at the cost of the pain its memory implies.
4
Is one position better than the other? There is no correct answer to this question: it
all depends on the individual, family or community situation, and on the relative position
of the situation regarding the present place, space or issue. Thus, a generation the one
that experienced the traumatic event can try to physically or psychologically remove it-
self and forget, while the next generation the one inheriting the trauma may seek to
understand and connect with what happened. This is the case of Montserrat Rojas, who
was born in exile, as many Chileans of her generation.
Its easy to recognize the need to publish these images as a moral restitution of the lost
or seized memory of a generation of Chileans. Its harder to see whats in the photographs
and what it means for each party in the conict. This book is both a problem and a hope:
on one hand, digging up what is repressed and trying to illuminate the darkness in spite of
the pain and, on the other, understanding what unites us to others and exorcizing our col-
lective demons with them.
4 Ernst Jnger, Sobre el dolor, (On Pain), Barcelona, Tusquets, publisher, 1995.
151
The perseverance of Mnemosyne
B\ i~riC iC:sLc~
Unlike what we might suppose, the mother of the Muses is not inspiration, but Mem-
ory. Inspiration precedes talent and craftsmanship; its like divine breath, the e|ect of a
trance bordering on madness. Muses, on the other hand, are more contained and dili-
gent, yet their e|orts are not expressed without the appearance of inspiration. Memory,
Mnemosyne, is who conceives the Muses during her love a|air with Zeus, in Pieria, at
the foot of the Olympus; over time it is assumed they are nine, named by Hesiod at some
point, but nothing is simpler than calling them Mneiae memories, evocations, as
they were identied in certain regions, according to Plutarch. At rst, let it be said, none
of the Muses sponsor the arts or sciences; their elds of inuence are song, dance, beauty
and sympathy, celebration and delight, though they are soon accommodated into more
probable artistic expressions, as well as history and astronomy. The Muses, Apollos at-
tentive students, as arrogant as him, punish the Hubris (extreme pride or arrogance) of
those who dare challenge them. One of the myths tell that the Muses awaken the pas-
sion, as well as the envy of young Thamyris, who decides to compete with them, in order
to win, and possess them all, but they blind him even before listening to him. He can no
longer see, but goddesses, I hear your song he replies with tragic dignity, on his way to
meet Tiresias and Oedipus, maybe Homer too, the notable blind men.
According to Hesiod, coupling with Mnemosyne, Memory, would allow a king or a
poet to speak with authority. So when Mnemosyne sleeps with Zeus, king of the gods of
the Olympus, during nine consecutive nights and gives birth to her daughters (in one of
the many versions), the preeminence of Memory is established in everything that is to be
spoken, and that which is to be done. Soon these daughters will be in charge of remind-
ing and evoking what happened, as well as what is established by singing, reciting, using
their charm, their beauty, their privileged voices, unrivaled. In their evolution they will go
on to preserve the fountain of knowledge and ways to develop knowledge. Over time,
they will be assigned the disciplines with which they are identied today.
The unfathomable latitude of Memory is at once generous and implacable. Each
event is comprised by a dynamic group of stimuli and consequences which allow the
152
event in itself to oat adrift in its context, nurturing itself from pertinent arguments and
defenses of other events in an apparent endlessness, until we begin to perceive the color
that stains the scattered leaves of this metaphorical onion, and we can come close to the
layer whose intensity suggests it was the pivot of what happened. Science has observed
that coloring enables us to trace the identity and behavior of things, and such are the
proceedings of memory, though in this case, color comes forth spontaneously as soon
the evocation begins, something we do not allow ourselves to see until later, habituated
as we are to lead the incitement of everything. Memory is preeminent to everything we
say or do, as was understood by Zeus himself from the very beginning, and when the
time comes, and in accordance to events, Memory will call on the Erinyes, the avengers,
for them to collect on moral bills, related to indelity or blood (Virgil proposes the triad),
though we try to encourage their best moods welcoming them like the Eumenides, the
benevolent beings. Corrupt people, fornicators and tyrants thoroughly know this.
But memory not only records crimes to be punished by the Greek Erinyes or the ro-
man Furies. Memorys endless vigil contains the dreams of each and every event occurred
throughout the history of man since he/she was able to combine mind, heart and hands
for the rst time, and become responsible for himself. Traveling these vast horizons is
each and everyones task in order to conform his/her particular identity and social iden-
tity, but it is also the duty of those gifted with a keen gaze to help us not to forget these
events with their mirrors of light.
Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini and Leonora Vicua are three photographers that
witnessed and registered the past when it was present, and since then, have brought it
forward into the future. In the di|erent emotional areas of their lives at the time, while
the decade from 1977 to 1987 went by, they photographed hostile events of the military
dictatorship, recording persecution and its few subterfuges. They recorded the repres-
sion and the e|ort to confront it, the e|ort of a society confused in the day-to-day ur-
gency, a day that could be the last one. They were not the only ones, certainly, but we
can say that their gaze was, that their documentation gathered not only the objective
contingency, but also its subjective background, in which the main characters of their
images reected the perplexity of having transposed the previous instant and still remain
there. Their faces are thus, faces of the precise moment and the moment after, the ones
many press photographers neglected in favor of the next event, leaving behind the sense
of what happened, which is only completed when a gesture accounts for the sensible
repercussion of an action or a reaction. Be it mediate or immediate, be it the surprised
or conspiratorial smile of a girl o|ering sweets in front of a smoking barricade (Lorenzini,
page 91), the wandering gaze of a customer during a curfew interval, (Vicua, page 103)
or the attitude of a threesome of curious onlookers peeking out from under the rst lintel
153
of a succession of doors occupied by military holding up their guns (Hughes, page 65).
If press photographers showed the events, Hughes, Lorenzini and Vicua additionally
attained the intimate impact on the protagonists, direct or indirect, active or passive,
reecting the emotional sprains of a torn society.
Other women photographers also documented the marginal life of discredited citizens
of the time an immense majority, such as Paz Errzuriz, Ins Paulino or Julia Toro, yet the
registers produced by Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini and Leonora Vicua transpired amidst
the smoke of tear gas or su|ocating cigarettes behind doors and windows tightly closed
at night. These authors, and so many others with their particular emphasis, represent a
unique aspect of the daily documentation of that deaf war, whose implicitness is untangled
by Hughes, Lorenzini and Vicua in the shantytowns and soup kitchens, in the long lines for
odd jobs, in cautious conversations or poetry readings, as well as in drinks and pichanga (a
popular nger food combining small pieces of ham, cheese, olives and salami, marinated
in vinegar, oil and several spices) which create a distraction from the ominous, just as pro-
tests and repression ratify the ominous as soon as it seemed to vanish. This autonomous,
multi-focal and compassionate in the humanitarian sense of the word, genre, is female
photography during the dictatorship. Endowed with a gaze that breaks down the syncretic
event of the news, amplifying it to a holistic exposure of its transcendence in those who are
featured in the news, this photography can only come from female sensibility, as opposed to
the unambiguous reality that tends to focalize on the male objective.
This was not an easy war, the war of gender identities within the war of photographic
genres within the anti-repressive war. Helen Hughes remembers: When we did eldwork,
I tried to go unnoticed by people, I tried to disappear so they did not react to the camera.
I would listen to what they told the journalist and try to contact the emotion, framing so
as to to nd that emotion in the photograph. Unlike Hughes photographs (page 56), its
hard to nd images distinguished by lost gazes and produced by male photographers, be-
sides those in which male and female photographers register the contingent instant equally
(Hughes, page 66). Or as Kena Lorenzini says: Male colleagues did not consider me much, in
their opinion my photographs were artistic. But Ive never felt like an artist, the artist has a
capacity for abstraction that I dont have, I just took photographs. However, in addition to
her photographs of the front, which are as good as anybody elses best images (Lorenzini,
page 73), are her side photographs, which portray her exclusive perception (Lorenzini, page
75). And Leonora Vicua, who registers bars at night, eminently male territory, even more so
under the curfew: Sometimes people stayed from curfew to curfew; other times we waited
a few hours to leave, and risked walking home. We used a special door, the one in front was
closed (Vicua, page 102). In her intent to mitigate technical failures in her photographs
taken in semidarkness during those years, her sensibility colored the sadness and became a
unique style (Vicua, page 115).
154
In the Greco Latin pantheon, Memory, its daughters the Muses and the Erinyes, the
avengers of crimes, they are all women. History and Culture in the western world are, in
the end, considered women, and so is Wisdom. It is not surprising, then, that during the
military dictatorship in Chile it was women photographers who expressed the complex-
ity of what was experienced in the events, while men were prone to run after the event,
rushin from one to the other, to the next one, without particularly abiding to their ef-
fects, to that collateral nature that in the end inserted them within a context and broke
down its sense, which in this case was dramatic. The fronts urgency primarily called on
photographers, who risked their lives shooting up close to get the events to the news
wire and get the worlds attention on the abuse su|ered in Chile and the repression of
the popular revolt. A 19-year-old young man, Rodrigo Rojas De Negri, was burned alive
while he shot his rst images of the rebellion. But these male photographs, many of
which were certainly worth a thousand words, required a complementary narration to
give an account of their implications in a divided society, with no other hope than trying
to contain it from breaking down. Without the complementary narration, press photo-
graphs were, in the end, part of the events, instead of a reection of the consequences.
And while journalism and the social sciences could mitigate the void with their writings,
the images of these women photographers were closer to dispensing with these texts,
since they carried a comprehensive narration within their negatives.
However, many of these female images were not considered. The urgency of the
events drowned their inherence, which is what Helen Hughes, Kena Lorenzini and Le-
onora Vicua registered, the same as other women photographers, during the infamous
dictatorship. Their photographs, insofar as they contained a male quality, made it to the
pages of the press, but the rest were lucky if they engrossed documentary archives, be
they institutional or pilgrim-like private, never to see the light. Perhaps many were lost,
in their objective uselessness, because they were subjective.
Nonetheless, Mnemosyne perseveres. She does not make way for oblivion, even
though her timing seems capricious and uneasiness strikes. Because Memory is dense, it
is neither hazardous nor fatuous, as much as its comprised by successive thin layers that
the published photograph persists in reading separately to alleviate the density. Memory
is nourished by the arguments of events, not just from them happening, and it is also
nourished by their consequences. This is how it can uncover the original color that lies
in its origin and that stains every leaf with attributable responsibilities, as much as they
appear to be barely noticeable. And this is how Mnemosyne, Memory, can assign the Er-
inyes, the Furies, their tasks, so they can collect debts pending from times of impunity.
Or maybe entrust the Eumenides, the Benevolent Ones, with forgiveness for these debts.
Este libro se termin de imprimir
en los talleres de Maval S.A.,
en junio de 2012.
Para los textos y ttulos del libro
se utiliz las tipografa;
Fedra Sans Std, en sus versiones
light, light italic, normal, normal italic,
medium y medium italic.