CHAPTER III

AFFECTS

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Affects investigates different experiences of the body. Bodies legally deprived of freedom; bodies taken to a scene of urban transit where their existence goes unnoticed; bodies posing; bodies of questioned sexualities; bodies that relate to transitional emotions. Affect theory addresses intermediate states, intensities, the passage from body to body (human, nonhuman, things, body parts); the “not yet,” what is “in-between” (in-betweenness, becoming/non-becoming, belonging/non-belonging). Baruch Spinoza wrote, “No one has yet determined what the body can do.” The body is configured in the not yet. This chapter contemplates that still-open process, which has no conclusion, that seeks the affectivity of what is to come, again and again and again ...

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

In 1982—when the Argentine dictatorship reached the crisis point that would lead to a return to democracy—Adriana Lestido, at just twenty-seven years old, covered a march against the regime that was taking place on the Plaza Alsina de Avellaneda for the daily La Voz. There, among the participants, she photographed a mother with her daughter, both their heads covered with white handkerchiefs. This photograph is probably the most famous Adriana has ever taken. An emblematic image of the resistance to the dictatorship that would eventually lead to a process of discovery. Who was that woman? What woman would that girl be today? Adriana searched for them for years.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

It was an act against the dictatorship a week after I started at La Voz; it was my first assignment. I went around to a number of publications, but there was no place for me as a woman. La Voz was the only newspaper where they agreed to see my photos. The only thing I had done on my own, as a story,
was a series about the flood in Villa Albertina. And they sent me to cover the Mothers in Avellaneda. The girl with the white scarf on her head was standing crying when everyone photographed her. But I felt ashamed and I couldn’t lift the camera. My colleagues left and I stayed next to them. At one point the
mother lifted the little girl and I was able to take the photo.
I wanted to locate them, I always asked about them; I asked Nora (Cortiñas, Mother of Plaza de Mayo), everyone. Many remembered them but did not know where they lived. I always thought Avelino Freitas, a labor leader from Molinos was the woman’s husband and the girl’s father, but no, he was her brother (and
uncle). The woman (Blanca Freitas) was thirty years old at that time, she was an atypical Plaza de Mayo Mother, she did not ask for her son. Finally, three years ago a teacher from Sarandí, a city south of Buenos Aires, who works with Blanca, wrote to me and from there I was able to arrange to meet them.

 

Adriana Lestido, El sentido de mis fotos es acercarme a la verdad, entrevista realizada por Laura Litvin, Tiempo Argentino, Buenos Aires, October 23, 2013.

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Imprisoned woman. Adriana Lestido lives with them. Photography and texts gather information that changes daily. Prosecuted, punished, dismissed, absent; the words are written with chalk on a blackboard to be erased and the numbers rewritten. They are mothers of children who live with them. Children who are imprisoned with them. In isolation, the bodies of these women touch between themselves, rest, and vibrate forms of sensuality. With the pandemic, the world’s prisons are bursting at the seams. In Argentina, the public debate installed the social contradiction that the pandemic had only numbed. Now one must confront the conflicts traversing the day-to-day. Tomorrow’s horizon is still too close to the urgency of today.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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When I began the project on women prisoners, it was with a slightly romantic idea of motherhood. And what struck me most is that, while in prison, having a child or not having one is the least of their worries. The toughest part is being in prison. Children have a secondary role inside the prison, and in a way they are all everyone’s children. The strength of the bond comes from the children being the only “thing” that a female prisoner can have, the only “thing” she is allowed and about which she can make a minimum decision, because I think that being a prisoner is being powerless to decide.

 

Adriana Lestido, interviewed by Anna-María Hollain, To photograph is to remove darkness from myself, El País, Madrid, June 13, 2010.

»» See We Are Memory with Adriana Lestido , Encuentro channel

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Ananké Asseff  documents a stunning image of forms of erasure, of herself, of her own presence, still in the urban traffic of people in constant motion. Her expression shifts, first serious and then with an almost frozen smile. The grammar of the crowd is based on the contagion of bodies. In Crowds and Power, Elias Canetti’s extensive analysis of multitudes, patterns are examined, but there is no mention of the possible contrast between the movements of the body infected by the urban traffic and absolute stillness, as embedded by the artist’s motionless presence. The film allows us to think about the affects that are not contagious. Here nobody notices the body, the immobile and inappropriate presence on the zigzagging paths of those who go by. Vacíate—empty yourself—the word on the banner allows us to think of that absence/presence in the monumental format of a placard: red, as if its large vertical surface has the power to introduce a dissident subjective voice.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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It is a video performance I did just before the lockdown began here—already aware of what was happening in the world—in which I stand motionless in a place where there are a lot of people, in this case the center of the city of Buenos Aires. Looking at a fixed point, my job is to show up in the emotional and existential state I am in and begin to self-generate the highest possible state of well-being through thought and gesture. I feel that we need to generate a state of well-being and somehow spread it. The work was very intense, because entering into a feeling of well-being requires a great deal of concentration. The overall project is called Un otro-lugar (An other-place), where I reformulate old statements and explore in depth the concepts of order and chaos, to reflect precisely on the idea of change. I am working with simple elements to reach the viewer. I investigate the stigmas that disturb us with the very idea of change. The world had nothing more to give. I believe that chaos is necessary, seeing it as disorder for a new order, for new ways, for a new logic. [...] It is a statement for this time of chaos. The color red references spaces that the collective unconscious recognizes as a sign of drama, of something dramatic, more so being a fabric, a banner of these dimensions. On the contrary, it has a very subtle word stamped in the middle, the word “vacíate” (empty yourself), and which invites us, I believe, to recognize an emotional space that needs to be relieved.

 

Ananké Asseff, Rethink Everything, Talk #1, May 30, 2020.

Affects and experiences of the body: Juan Travnik’s Adolescentes (Teenagers) captures the transitional time of profound change in the body, the affects and emotions. It is the time when the first person, the “I,” establishes agency, constructing their self, the signs of a sexual identity that investigates its borders, that questions binarisms. Its agenda touches on many of the gender issues that feminism addresses.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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This work is from the first part of the 1980s. My interest while working on adolescent portraits was in developing my ideas on the subject of the portrait: characteristics, the recognition of sexuality, the discovery of the body, with certain, I would say, aggressive attitudes, especially on the part of the young men. It seems that during adolescence we carry the world ahead of us, until we find a wall that makes us come back to reality and realize that not every- thing is as straightforward as it seems. At the time, I wasn’t interested in researching social classes differences. I could have done that too, but what I was more interested in, with the figures in my study—from different social classes, friends of my children, young people who were on the street—was in getting closer to them and looking for those characteristics that I considered typical of adolescence, a vital age, full of contradictions, an age of new beginnings yet mournful at the same time. It is a moment that produced a change in my photography—which was more of a humanist street photography—to photographs taken in the studio.

 

Juan Travnik, Rethink Everything, Talk #2, June 13, 2020.

In these photographs, Vivian Galban investigates the frontiers of binary sexuality, the relationship between the body and the female image, the body and the male image. The emotional haze surrounding the definition of these singularities complicates the heteronormative ways of understanding sexuality and bodies. Similar, complementary, opposite, different? The repetition of the pose and the similarity between the models portrayed establishes the question of identity. How are they constructed? How do they act? How do they complement each other?

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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This work is ten years old, which has given me the opportunity to revise it and understand that the genesis of many of my current projects lies in it. In all of my work, including the 450 portraits that I made in the last photographic performance, I always worked with the others. This series in particular, working on aspects of gender, set the stage for nonbinary ideas. I have always maintained my interest in these minorities. It raises the idea of not being classified, like an idea that is too strong and is engulfed by another. For opposites to exist, and so the idea of the intermediate void must also exist. There must be a balance. Seeing this work again, with its crudeness, allows me to show things that refer to other current projects in which this genre is merging in an undetermined state, in actions with small interventions using the digital medium.

 

Vivian Galban, Rethink Everything, Talk #2, June 13, 2020.

Nicola Costantino activates the memory of the body as constructed by the history of art, the female body. She returns to the archive of poses and gestures as observed by the male gaze. She strikes the Botticelli pose, the Bacon pose, and unfolds her body, explicitly exposing the construction of the gaze as it plays out in their famous paintings. In the photograph shown here, an interstitial moment is recorded, in which the referenced scenography has not been set up. As she looks at the printout of the painting whose posture she is going to replicate, Nicola finds herself in an intermediate state. The gaze becomes disordered, navigates between the body and the representation. A statue body, in a sense, and a body in its own inner self.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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It appears without my having looked for it; it is a behind-the-scenes image that I saw after the photo session; when it appeared I found it really valuable. My productions are very thought through; there is nothing accidental, spontaneous, or random; they are very composed, and here it is the opposite. I hardly noticed its existence until the moment it materialized. Sometimes there is information that ends up in the artworks that you didn’t know about. I was breastfeeding my son, who was five or six months old, and at that moment I must have taken two or three pictures, but this one, with those breasts full of milk, has a lot to do with emotion. The photo I was originally taking was this cross between Botticelli and Rembrandt, Rembrandt’s half-carcass. Bacon cites Rembrandt, those two half-carcasses that make up those very heavy wings, but because of that animal carcass they will never be able to take flight. At the same time, it contrasts with that Botticellesque sweetness of the Venus being born. Such opposites. For me, it has this idea of an angel, but a dark angel. At that time I fell in love with a kind of photography that I discovered almost by chance—I am a sculptor and I spent many years doing sculpture— but at that moment I had been left without a house, without a workshop, I was building, I had no place to live, nowhere to create sculpture. I met Gabriel Valansi, who embarked on the same construction project where we were going to live and have studios, and that’s how I discovered photography and began to think of works in photography, guided by Gabriel, who did the photography, took the pictures. When the pandemic broke out, I thought: Isn’t this going to interrupt this women’s revolution that has been exploding throughout the world? I thought that I could interfere, then I realized that no, on the contrary, we were in the foreground of the discussion in all areas. Women are going to have a great role in this return to build a new life. Raising a person aware of the changes that we urgently have to implement, they will have the possibility of saving the world. It is, above all, in the hands of women.

Nicola Costantino, Rethink Everything, Talk #2, June 13, 2020

BIOGRAPHIES | CHAPTER III

Adriana Lestido (b. 1955). Buenos Aires, Argentina.

She was the first Argentine photographer to receive the prestigious Guggenheim scholarship (1995) and awarded with the Mother Jones International Fund (1997). In 2010, she was named Outstanding Personality of Culture by the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires. She is the author of seven books. Her work is part of the collections of the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Museum of Contemporary Art Castagnino+MACRO (Argentina), Museum of Fine Arts (Caracas, Venezuela), Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, USA), Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris, France), Hasselblad Center (Gothenburg, Sweden), among others.

Ananké Asseff (b. 1971). Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Visual artist. Her artworks integrate national and international collections, both public and private, such as Tate Modern (Britain), J. Paul Getty Museum (USA), Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Wifredo Lam Center for Contemporary Art (Cuba), ARTER (Turkey), National Museum of Fine Arts (Argentina), Castagnino+MACRO Museum (Argentina), Caraffa Museum (Argentina), among others. She has participated in the Havana Biennial (2009), Curitiba Biennial (2017) and BIENALSUR (2017). She participated in numerous exhibitions in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States, France, Switzerland, and China.

Juan Travnik (b. 1950). Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Photographer, curator and teacher. Member of the National Academy of Fine Arts (Argentina). He directed the Photo Gallery of the San Martín Theater (1998-2015). He directs the Bachelor of Photography at the National University of San Martín (Argentina). He has received numerous honors such as Konex Platinum (2012), John Simon Guggenheim Scholarship (2006) and the Federico Klemm Foundation First Prize (2004), among others. He is the author of several publications such as Paisajes (Antennae Collection, 2014), Malvinas. Portraits and landscapes of war (Ed. Larivière, 2008), Juan Travnik (Ed. University of Salamanca, 1997). He lives and works in Buenos Aires. 

Vivian Galban (b. 1969). Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Architect and artist, specialized in the investigation of supports and processes applied to the production of lens-based media work. She completed the Beyond The Silver Gelatin Print specialization at Penumbra Foundation (NY, 2018). Her works were selected in the Buenos Aires Photo Award (2015), the ArtexArte Biennial (2015), the XVII Biennial of Visual Arts in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (2010), among others. She participated in international fairs, among which stand out Art Toronto (Canada, 2019), arteBA (Argentina, 2016/2018), Lima Photo (Peru, 2017), Zona Maco (Mexico, 2013/2014) and ArtBo (Colombia, 2013). She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, MACBA (2016) and Recoleta Cultural Center (2015). She lives and works in Buenos Aires.

Nicola Costantino (b. 1964). Rosario, Argentina.

She works with sculpture, clothing, installations, photography, and video installation. In her works she denounces the violence exerted on the body, the axis of her investigation. During the last years she has composed scenographic productions of episodes in the history of art in which she is included, embodying paradigmatic female subjects. Her pieces combine sharp beauty with hard-to-resolve discomfort. Some of her recent projects are Unfinished Rhapsody (Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat Art Collection, 2015), Eva – Argentina. A Contemporary Metaphor (55th Venice Biennale, 2013), and Monographic Exhibition (Daros Latinamerica, 2011). She lives and works in Buenos Aires.

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