Memories/ Correspondences

A conversation with Marcelo Brodsky about the role of memory in dealing with disappearance


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Memory
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions



Eduardo Cadava


Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


25% Formal - 75% Informal

  • Brodsky

Slought is pleased to announce Memories/ Correspondences, a lecture by the Argentinean photographer and writer Marcelo Brodsky on Monday, March 29 from 3:30-5:30pm, followed by a public conversation with Eduardo Cadava of Princeton University.

Marcelo Brodsky is an artist and human rights activist now based in Buenos Aires, after many years in exile in Barcelona. He has had solo exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, New York, Rotterdam, Montevideo, Rome, Caracas and Amsterdam, and his work is represented in the collections of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, the Joaquim Paiva Collection, the Fernando Baur Collection and numerous private collections. He is a member of the Commission for the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism, Buenos Aires, and on the Board of Directors of Buena Memoria, a non-governmental organization dedicated to human rights work in Argentina. He runs the Latinstock photo agency.

The conversation will be divided into two parts: Memories and Correspondences.

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In a series of projects organized around the issues of the disappeared in Argentina and elsewhere, Marcelo Brodsky has sought to initiate a series of dialogues among the different generations that have been affected by the consequences of the state terrorism and military dictatorship that governed Argentina from roughly 1976 to 1983. These projects have explored the capacity of art and photography to create a space that might mediate traumatic experiences while also encouraging us to reflect on the role and place of memory in conveying the emotional dimension of the disappearances to a new generation of viewers, one that had not yet been born or was too young when the events of the "Dirty War" occurred. From Buena Memoria (1997) to Los condenados de la tierra (The Wretched of the Earth, 2000) to Nexo (2001) and Memory Works (2003), Brodsky uses photographs from family albums, videos, personal and literary notes, and historical documents related to the bureaucracy of the dictatorship to initiate a meditation on the ways in which different forms of documentation can support and resist state violence. What traverses this work like a kind of red thread is Brodsky's insistence on the archive and, indeed, his memory works always have been organized around files and archives of all sorts, and drawn from both private and public sources. In a discussion of his use of materials drawn from his collection of family photographs, and from legal and policial files and archives, Brodsky will seek to explain how such different archival materials have been integrated into the general discourse of his work and how, in his use of them, they are meant to elicit strong emotional responses that may help transform a viewers relation to the materials at hand. What is at stake in this effort to construct a narrative composed of archival materials, new photographic images, texts and videos is therefore the possibility of communicating through different languages and media, something that is related to his later Visual Correspondences project.


What is a dialogue or correspondence? What happens when these take place in relation to images and photographs? What happens if, when I send an image to an other, the other responds to me? How do we understand what happens if this response is not made of words, but takes the form of a new image? What happens, in other words, when the ritual of sending images is superimposed onto that of the epistolary exchange? Brodsky's Visual Correspondences project, a transnational, multi-media series of correspondences that he initiated with four photographers and one artist, takes its point of departure from these questions. The project included visual correspondences between Brodsky and the Catalonian photographer Manel Esclusa, the Mexican photographer Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, the Brazilian photographer Cassio Vasconcellos, the English photographer Martin Parr, and the German artist Horst Hoheisel. Each correspondence consisted of a series of images emailed between Brodsky and his interlocutors. He would send a photograph to one of them and, in the instances of the photographers, they would reply with a photograph, and, in the instance of Hoheisel, he would respond with a drawing. Each photographer or artist would respond to the other's last image, poetically, playfully, and intuitively combining the chance of a ready-made with the complexity of photographic memory and production. The correspondences raise several interesting and timely questions about agency, communication and correspondence, the relation between the visual and the linguistic, and the itinerancy of images in general. Is it possible to believe that the photographer who signs the first image is the same one who signs the exchange's third one, or that the one who signs the second one is the same as the one who signs the correspondence's fourth one? Or is it that each sending from the other alters our way of seeing things? To what do we respond when we respond to a sending, to what we imagine as the "I wish to say" that comes from the other? Is there a first sending, a first word or a first image? Or is it that we always begin in the middle of a conversation, interrupting the murmuring of signs that speak for us, even when we do not expect it and sometimes when we do not even imagine it? Perhaps the very idea of correspondence is a chimera.