Fallow Land: An (Inter)medial Approach to Biography | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


The last dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983) created such conditions for thousands of children that they have to look for their missing parents in different ways. Parents that went ‘missing’ never came back, others chose to flee the county and remain in self-exile, leaving their children behind. These conditions gave rise to memory erasure that later might be neutralized and remediated by the children through resignification of narrative identities via therapy, art, biographies, biopics, comics, documentaries, etc. Contemporary biography writing and the new media landscape have raised questions on the relationship between the biographer’s gaze and the experience created while narrating the life of another person, regarding the use of a subjective voice, self-reflexivity, where it is necessary, and the ways to achieve these. The primary sources of traditional biography writing – letters, diaries, memoirs – are no longer the main reservoirs of traces that a person leaves behind. Films and the media have become important objects of investigation in this regard. This raises the question of how to make sense of a person’s life when the most significant part of what they leave behind is a fragmented “past presence” in various media, each of which has its specificity and regulatory norms, and when the only traces of the person’s character appear in media performances and in his children that were left behind. I propose a way to make sense of a character through remediation: the son or daughter may become a medium for activating memory and disclosing unprecedented material about the person’s character (photos, autobiographical texts, home videos). The experience of the daughter or son is externalized and expressed through an art form (such as my biographic documentary of my father), which might contribute to making sense of the person’s character through artistic means.


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