Marcelo Brodsky

Memory Bridge

1996

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Not on display

Artist
Marcelo Brodsky born 1954
Original title
Puente de la memoria
Medium
Video, projection, colour and sound
Dimensions
Duration: 1min, 50sec
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Marcelo Brodsky 2013
Reference
T14275

Summary

Memory Bridge 1996, from Marcelo Brodsky’s project Good Memory (Buena Memoria) 1996, is a film lasting one minute and fifty seconds. It consists principally of recorded footage of a memorial ceremony for the alumni of the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ during the military dictatorship in Argentina which lasted from 1976 to 1983 (though the dates are often extended to 1955–83 or 1969–83). In the ceremony, the names of the ninety-eight ex-students are read out with the crowd shouting ‘presente’ after each one in the manner of a roll-call. Photographs of the missing individuals are interspersed with the footage, and snippets of text crudely handwritten in red paint scroll across the centre. These include ’98 de un colegio’ (98 from one school) and ‘hicieron falta 20 años’ (it took 20 years), referring to the length of time it took for the individuals to be officially remembered. The film exists in an edition of ten.

Good Memory is an extended photographic essay, of which an annotated photograph of the artist’s class photo in the first year of high school (1st Year, 6th Division, Class Photo 1967 1996, printed 2014, Tate T14158) is the centrepiece. In total the project consists of fifty-five images and two videos – Memory Bridge and A Space to Oblivion 1996. The larger part of the project consists of photographs Brodsky took of his former classmates who were still alive once he had tracked them down. In these images, 1st Year, 6th Division, Class Photo 1967 also appears, either blown up as a background or being held by the subject.

The first exhibition of Buena Memoria was in the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires (CNBA) in 1996, during the ceremony which Brodsky filmed for Memory Bridge. The ceremony was organised by the Argentine Historical and Social Memory Foundation and Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of Plaza de Mayo). The act of naming the ninety-eight students and announcing them as present symbolically reversed the ‘disappearing’ of the victims and the erasure of their memory.

Good Memory is a deeply personal project for the artist – several of his former friends and classmates, as well as his older brother Fernando, last seen in 1979, were among the disappeared. Three of the children pictured in 1st Year, 6th Division, Class Photo 1967 1996, printed 2014 were later imprisoned by the military regime; two of them, including Brodsky’s best friend Martín, were never seen again. Curator Gabriela Salgado has described the artist’s research process and its wider sociological and historical significance:

As he began to make contact with his classmates, he made an intervention on an enlarged copy of the original black and white portrait with text summarising their lives during the nearly thirty years that had passed. But those pencil marks inevitably defined more than individual fate, for what they describe [are] the fatidic socio-political events that transformed the lives of an entire generation of Argentines. The group photograph became a portion of history, the picture of an entire nation.
(Gabriela Salgado, ‘Bridging Oblivion with Remembrance: The Good Memory of Marcelo Brodsky’, http://www.escala.org.uk/collection/contributors/gabriela-salgado/text/AUTH529, accessed October 2012.)

An economics graduate from the University of Barcelona, Brodsky was trained as a photographer at the International Centre of Photography, Barcelona by the Catalan photographer Manel Esclusa and lived in Barcelona for the period of the military dictatorship in Argentina. Brodsky’s work seeks to communicate to younger generations the experience of state terrorism in Argentina and generate dialogue between the different generations affected by the consequences of the military dictatorship.

Further Reading
Marcelo Brodsky, Buena Memoria, Buenos Aires 1997.
Andreas Huyssen, Marcelo Brodsky: Memory Works, Salamanca 2003.
Valeria Gonzalez, Eduardo Cadava, Paola Cortes-Rocca and others, Visual Correspondences: Brodsky, Esclusa, Vasconcellos, Ortiz Monasterio, Parr, Hoheisel, Buenos Aires 2009.

Tanya Barson
October 2012
Arthur Goodwin
February 2019

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