Abrir la puerta para ir a jugar: serious play in documentary art interventions Video 2011
“In liminality people ‘play’ with the elements of the familiar and defamiliarize them. Novelty emerges from unprecedented combinations of familiar elements.”
Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theater. The human seriousness of play
“Experimental contexts are recursive arrangements in which new knowledge arises that constantly challenges to rethink the presuppositions of the method in use and calls for adjustment.”
~Hans Rheinberg discussing Gaston Bachelard, On historicizing epistemology
This video piece is part of an ongoing ethnographic and documentary art project entitled Marginal Suffering: An ethnographic and audiovisual exploration of Argentinean memoryscapes. The project is concerned with mapping and intervening the historical narratives, practices, and scenarios surrounding memorialization of the violent political repression that took place in Argentina during the second half on the 20th century. In particular, this project pays special attention to the differential participation of distinct social groups in these processes. Two particular sites form the spatial frame for this piece: a clandestine detention center and a cemetery, both located at the heart of a poor neighborhood on the margins of the city of Córdoba, Argentina. Weaving together eight years of ethnographic documentation including visual exploration of the sites, conversations with neighbors, video recordings of public screenings of my work-in-progress on location, and self-reflexive voice over narration, this piece illustrates my methodology in action.
My approach entails what I call ‘collaborative/performative acts of social analysis,’ in which research participants are engaged as knowing/knowledgeable subjects during fieldwork. In the documentation of our conversations and visits to the sites, as well as after the initial stages of writing and editing, participants are invited to take part in viewing and discussing my documentary work-in-progress. Involving the project’s participants in a critical dialogue about my practice opens the realm of analysis (usually considered the “expert’s” terrain) to further collaboration, blurring clear-cut distinctions between subject and object, process and product, research stages and spaces. Work-in-progress screenings bring the studio into the field, which then becomes not just the site where participant observation takes place but also an experimental space where new ways of thinking, perceiving, feeling, and acting may emerge.
Florencia Marchetti is an Anthropologist and documentarian currently pursuing a PhD in Humanities at Concordia University, in Montréal. Her dissertation builds on her previous ethnographic research on the politics of memory and the memories of politics in post-dictatorship Argentina. Born in the city of Cordoba (Argentina), Florenica completed a degree in Social Communications and received graduate training in Anthropology at Universidad Nacional de Cordoba before moving to California and obtaining a MA in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz, for which she completed a video essay called Haunting Presences (2007, 42’).