Voluspa Jarpa’s work questions the representations of history in various regimes of the image, most notably in the mass media and in art. Histórias de aprendizagem [Learning Histories] is a labyrinthine installation comprising, on the one hand, CIA documents on the last dictatorship in Brazil (1964-1985) declassified a few years ago by the US government and, on the other, documents from the Brazilian secret service produced during the mandates of Getúlio Vargas (1951-1954) and João Goulart (1961-1964). The display also includes documents on the latter’s exile in Uruguay until he was allegedly assassinated in Argentina in 1976, within the frame of Operation Condor, a coordinated plan hatched by the dictatorships in the Southern Cone of South America.
For Jarpa, it is symptomatic that in all these documents some parts were erased before declassification. These erasures can be read as a form of hysterical behaviour, which in Freudian psychoanalysis stands for the inability to deal with trauma. In the terms of Sigmund Freud, trauma is an archived and negated narrative while the symptom is a coded archive. Jarpa incorporates the erasures from the original documents into the very structure of the installation, foreclosing the spectator’s access to the documents in front of them and allowing them only partial glimpses of those in the background. In this way, possibility is experienced as impossibility, in turn speaking to a promise of disclosure that is in fact materialised as repression.
Jarpa has created many works based on archives declassified by the USA relating to Chile and other Latin American countries. In all cases, she analyses what has been erased and draws attention to the final image of the intervened document, an image that engages with the construction of visibilities and also the poetical and political potential of the uses of the archive, casting a shadow on the present. – SGN