Date of Degree

9-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor(s)

Katherine Manthorne

Subject Categories

Communication | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies

Keywords

Argentina; Dictatorship; Icon; Photography; Photojournalism

Abstract

In 2006, on the thirtieth anniversary of the military coup that brought Argentinian democracy to a halt, a group of photojournalists put together an outstanding exhibition of images from the dictatorship. This dissertation critically engages with the most enduring photojournalistic works produced during this period and featured in the landmark retrospective. By researching the historical context of these photographs, I aim to underscore the important contributions photojournalists made not only during the dictatorship, but also in its immediate aftermath, when the most iconic images were republished in printed publications including newspapers, magazines and books. As a starting point, I review the initial phases of photography in Argentina, and sui generis photojournalistic ventures. I then demonstrate that the field became very quickly divided between fine art photography and photojournalism. The first part of my dissertation points to the contradictory attitudes of the renowned photographers Sara Facio and Alicia D'Amico, who publicly praised the work of socially engaged photography in international colloquia, while at the same time disregarding the work of young photojournalists. Many of the photojournalists of the 1980s took a political stance, which was manifest in the exhibitions they organized. I argue for the historical significance of these photojournalists' exhibitions as artistic points of resistance to official discourse at the time. Next, I identify news images as photojournalistic icons that have been repeatedly reused in diverse contexts after their original publication, articulating new meanings based on available social knowledge. I engage with the different uses of the term icon for such images. Finally, I analyze the official visual discourse during the dictatorship period to argue that the relevance given to 'the visual' during those years indirectly benefited photojournalism. I conclude by studying the 2006 exhibition that inspired this project, because it represented a milestone for the recognition of photojournalism in Argentina. I also indicate directions for future research regarding the current state of institutions of memory by describing photographic works that have dominated the gallery spaces of such establishments in recent years, and hint at the future for photojournalistic icons.

 
 

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