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“Recovering memory is also a way of closing wounds that have remained open for too long.”
The Archivo de la Memoria Trans (Trans Memory Archive) was an idea by María Belén Correa and Claudia Pía Baudracco (trans activists advocating for the rights of sexual minorities and LGTBI people). They set out to collect photos, letters, videos, and newspaper and magazine clippings in order to reconstruct, based on these documents, the memory of a historically ignored and systematically abused group. A story that belonged to them, and the story of their friends and colleagues. Of those that were and those that are no longer.
This is how they began collecting material. They received stories from family and friends. Photos and videos were rescued before someone else could destroy evidence of what they thought shouldn’t be known. And they, literally and figuratively, stole photos.
After Pía’s death, in 2012, María Belén created a private Facebook group that allowed her to contact other survivors as well as the relatives and friends of those who were lost. The initial idea was to gather the survivors, their memories and their images and make them visible. But the project started mutating, evolving into something different.
The archive is a meeting point, a collection, a treasure. An incredible book that I am lucky to own, because it seems that there will be no new editions. And now it is also a series of shorts via Canal Encuentro which can be seen on TV and online, both on the channel’s website and on its YouTube channel. Four episodes (two already released and available online, another two to be released) where through photos, videos and interviews we will be able to meet some of those who were part of building this legacy. The episodes are released ever Tuesday of May at 10 p.m. on Canal Encuentro and from that moment on they are also streamable online.
Agustina Comedi and Mariana Bomba were in charge of scripting and directing this project that carries a totally transfeminist stamp. I was able to chat with them.
How did you arrive at this project?
Mariana: The project grew very fast and that was beautiful. The idea arose last year when Congresswoman Mara Brawuer, who had already been in contact with the Archivo de la Memoria Trans for a virtual exhibition in which they worked together, proposed to work on the archive audiovisually. There, Vanessa Ragone joined as a producer and Canal Encuentro as a screen. Agustina Comedi and I joined as directors and we immediately began to work with the archive under the guidance of Cecilia Estalles and María Belén Correa. We met Edith Rodríguez, Cinthia Aguilar and Julieta González, the protagonists of the other episodes. The project grew we were joined by great artists and professionals from our industry. Mariela Rípodas, art director, started working with Agus and I in pre-production and there we finished shaping the textures and color palette of each episode. Rocío Galarza, graphic artist, worked on the intro of the series together with the musician Albano Bomba.
How did you approach the narrative? The voiceover with the photos. The decision to go beyond just interviews. It’s like the voice of one is the voice of all. Is this going to be maintained through all episodes?
Agustina: The decision for the episodes to be carried by the voice of a protagonist and creating this dialogue with the images comes down exactly to what you mentioned. The stories are personal stories, but the trajectory of each of them is defined for that structural violence suffered by the entire group. The format of the series responds to the need to highlight this issue.
We also decided that, although what we wanted to visibilize the material that constitutes the Archivo de la Memoria Trans – photos and letters – and that the guide through these images would be the interviews, it was important that at times those voices were accompanied by seeing the protagonists today. That is why we did small shoots for each of the episodes.
How did you go about selecting the stories and images?
Agustina: We made an initial preselection of images according to the script that we had prepared based on the information that María Belén Correa had given us. After the interviews we made a second selection, many of the photos that we had chosen did not quite fit and others that we had discarded became completely fundamental.
As far as the interviews, they lasted between one and two hours each. It was a challenge to get them down to the 15 minutes we needed for the series.
Mariana: The next challenge was to mount those still images in motion, it was a very beautiful process to weave the images with the stories. For us it was very important to preserve the materiality of the photographs throughout the series. There were photos that were worn, torn, bent, with marks that showed time and experience. We wanted those “scars”, as María Belén Correa calls them, to be seen.
In addition to the documentary shorts, the project is launching its new website. A kind of online catalog of the material that they have collected. On the occasion of the launch, an online talk will be held in which Marlene Wayar, Camila Sosa Villada and Viviane Vergueiro will participate. You can see it live this Monday May 17th at 6:00 p.m. through Instagram or the archive’s YouTube channel.