Academic journal article Liminalities

"Tomas Para Un Documental" ("Shots for a Documentary") and the Thick Framing of History

Academic journal article Liminalities

"Tomas Para Un Documental" ("Shots for a Documentary") and the Thick Framing of History

Article excerpt

1.

Once an incarnation of national populism's prosperous utopia, the industrial zone of Riachuelo in the outer port area of Buenos Aires now appears as a landscape corroded by the effects of unproductive time. This desolate image conveys the social, economic, and political devaluation provoked by a neoliberal economy forcefully imposed during Menem's administration at the beginning of the 1990s. Daniel García Helder's "Tomas para un documental" makes visible the marks this structural violence has left by travelling through the desolate landscapes of industrial cemeteries. In this study I aim to explore how the documentary approach adopted in this poetic work offers a particular experience of time and space that permits both a consideration of framing/naming possibilities after a moment of destruction and a mapping of the place's affective force.

Born in Rosario in 1961, Daniel García Helder's works, including El faro de Guereño (1990), El guadal (1994) y La vivienda del trabajador (2008), stand at the historical crossroads of the end of the dictatorship and the transition to democracy. The experience of this inbetweenness is transposed into poetic form in his unpublished work "Tomas para un documental," written between 1992 and 1995. Fragments of the work can be found in different literary magazines such as Punto de Vista (Buenos Aires, 1997), La modificación (Madrid, 1998), and Matadero 103 (Santiago de Chile, 2002), as well as in some contemporary anthologies. His poetry emerged during a period of significant transformation in post-dictatorial Argentina. According to Idelver Avelar, during the transition period to democracy (1983-1989), president Raúl Alfonsín's systematic concessions to the military concerning crimes committed during the dictatorship (1976-1983), as well as to the IMF concerning issues of economic policy, produced a sentiment of disenchantment in the Argentine population (60). Carlos Menem's ascent to power along with his "neoliberal kitsch version of Peronism" at the beginning of the 1990s (61) brought about the deregulation of the Argentine economy and an escalating process of trans-nationalisation that expanded and consolidated large economic groups and undermined the weakest fractions of mid-range and small business capital. In order to open the national market to foreign investors and increase imports, the country underwent a coordinated process of "de-industrialization" of local production and the privatization of public industries. With the expulsion of the labour force from the industrial sector to the tertiary sector together with the move towards selfemployment that was seen during the dictatorship, the core of the national-popular model of national industrialization and its motto "Freedom or Dependence" was thrown into crisis.1 In Maristella Svampa's view: "The country attended to the structural crisis of the national-popular model, without discovering the formula, both economic and political, that would regain the lost key to social integration" (23-25).2 Menem's economic project gave shape to a new social order in which "the free market replaced almost naturally the organized community and the welfare state" (Novaro 234). Likewise, the corroded ethical bases of democracy after such economic measures and the application of amnesty laws provoked a "decollectivization of vast sectors of society" and consequently "an entry into a period of individualisation of the social" (Svampa 47).

Rapid changes in production modes also had an important impact on the literary production of the period. The poets emerging at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 90s had to reassess the role of literature in the present. In 1986, the first edition of the literary journal Diario de Poesía was published in Buenos Aires, becoming the main platform for new objectivist poetry emerging in Argentina at the time.3 Diario de Poesía assumed the task of circulating and translating works from the modernist movement of objectivist poetry such as that of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, and Carlo Rakosi, among others. …

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