Marcelo Brodsky (1954 - )


    Buena Memoria, 1967. The work process

    When I returned to Argentina after many years living in Spain I had just turned forty and wanted to work on my identity. Photography, with its precise capacity to freeze a point in time, provided the tool for me to do this. I began by reviewing family photos, those from my childhood, those from college. I found a group portrait of our class in our first year, taken in 1967, and I felt the need to know how the lives of each of them had turned out. I decided to call a reunion of my class from the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires so we could meet up again after twenty-five years. I invited to my house those I could trace locally, and proposed doing a portrait of each of them. I blew up to large format the photo of '67, the first in which we had appeared together, so that it could serve as a background for the portraits and I asked each of them to bring with them for the portrait an aspect of their contemporary life. I continued painting portraits of the class members who didn't come to the reunion, but I couldn't take the big photo with me. I took with me small copies of the image to include in these portraits which I executed in Buenos Aires, in Madrid, in Robledo de Chavela (Spain) and in New York.

    Later on an event was organised to remember classmates from the College who had disappeared or who had been assassinated by the state terrorism of the black years of the dictatorship. After twenty years, the College authorities agreed for the first time that we could meet in the main lecture hall and officially commemorate those who were missing. It was a historic occasion. I decided to work on the large photo which had served as the background for my photographs of my classmates, and to write on the image a comment about the life of each one of them. I did the same later with a more extensive text which accompanies the portraits.

    As part of this event an exhibition of photos of the period was installed in order to use images to communicate to the current students of the College what had happened in the past. The photos were something which had survived from the ninety eight companions, a tool with which to transform them into real, tangible people. We had to know who and what we were talking about. I decided to include in this photographic exhibition the group photo of my first year, modified with my texts and the new portraits of my friends. The photos remained on display in the College for several days. The light from the midday sun from the huge windows in the cloister fell on to the faces of the students who stopped to look, reflecting in the glass which protected my intervened photograph. The image of these reflections constitutes a fundamental part of this work, in that it represents the moment when experience was transmitted between generations.

    Translated from the original Spanish by Valerie Fraser

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