AND WHEN THE BODY ECHOES : NEGOTIATING MEMORY THROUGH THE PERFORMANCE OF NEGATIVE AFFECT IN GALINDO’S ‘LAS ESCUCHARON GRITAR Y NO ABRIERON LA PUERTA’
Grave Loyson, Margot De
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This thesis examines the potential of bodily performances of memory in the creation of critical countermemories. Taking a closer listen at Regina José Galindo’s sound performance ‘Las Escucharon Gritar y No Abrieron la Puerta’ (2017), this thesis explores how the performance of negative affect can counter cultural silences surrounding femicide in the context of Guatemala and, in doing so, challenge its dominant cultural memory. Departing from the problematic position of memory in post-war Guatemala and the inadequacies of the traditional testimonial form demonstrated in the stark contrast between the civil war’s ongoing legacy of gender-based violence and the strategic amnesia enabled by the nationally-endorsed discourse on progress, this thesis addresses the need for alternative forms of memory-making in attending to traumatic hi/stories. Observing how the embodied reality of traumatic memory often resists narration, this thesis explores the potential of artistic practices in attending to the affective registers of (traumatic) memory. Through a semiotic reading of the scream as an auditory signifier of grief, this thesis demonstrates the disruptive potential of the bodily performance of negative affect, describing how the scream, in making audible the negative affect of grief, opens up a space for the ongoing negotiation over the meaning of loss and, in doing so, counters the silence surrounding femicide in Guatemala. Additionally, this thesis finds that, in its affective re-call of the past, the scream reevaluates hi/stories of gender-based violence as ‘unfinished’, disrupting the teleology of the nationally-endorsed narrative and, subsequently, produces a countermemory that fractures the carefully constructed cultural memory of Guatemala, sculpted in favour of a unidirectional move toward a ‘promising’ future.