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Photographic memory and ekphrasis in Tununa Mercado’s En estado de memoria

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Article of journalRojinsky, David . (King’s College London, Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, Reino Unido). Photographic memory and ekphrasis in Tununa Mercado’s En estado de memoria.  / Memoria fotográfica y ekfrasis de Tununa Mercado en Estado de memoria Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, 2015 vol. 21 no. 1 p. 55-74. Keywords:
Cinema, Photography | Literature
Ekfrasis / Montaje / Fotografía / Imagentexto / Exilio / Memoria / Postdictadura
20th century


Previous studies of En estado de memoria (1990), Tununa Mercado’s meditation on exile and the trauma of return, have tended to refrain from any extended analysis of its ekphrastic quality and the blurring of the text/image binary characterizing the narrator’s account of both memorial experience and the exilic condition. Yet, the plasticity of Mercado’s prose actually encourages the reader to engage each section of the book as if it were one of a series of imagetexts, which, as an ensemble, offer a constellation of visual memories. Of particular interest is the use of photography as a conceptual framing device for highlighting the narrator’s struggle to become a “seeing subject” as a pre-requisite for subsequently becoming a “remembering subject.” For, just as actual photographs are evoked and textually “re-framed” at several junctures within the narrative, the overarching tendency is to narrate memory as if it were a quasi-photographic event. Consequently, I argue that when read/viewed as a constructed montage of photo-image/texts or a “textual” photograph album, En estado de memoria supersedes any notion of the “unrepresentability” of the traumatic authoritarian past and also exceeds its “post-dictatorship” historical classification by pre-empting today’s conception of memory art as an inter-generational work of construction.

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