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Dr Jessica Gordon-Burroughs (University of Edinburgh)
Even as Puerto Rican printmaker and filmmaker Poli Marichal pursued the perhaps illusory goal of a universal language of pure form, her 1980's Super 8 filmic odes still pivot on the multiple expressive codes of Puerto Rico’s “broken” (Díaz Quiñones) colonial memory. Words in Spanish, English and French are written upon the film’s emulsion with pens steeped in alcohol and Chinese ink. Combining with snippets of documentary footage, abstract and roughly figurative forms are etched upon the film’s surface with diluted bleach. These short experimental films (usually lasting no more than a few minutes) are characterized by the ‘placelessness’ of interior dreamscapes, where experience takes on musical and chromatic form. Yet, the films’ power simultaneously hinges on an intense locatedness centered on “Puerto Rico,” a word-place-signifier almost invariably chiseled upon even her most abstract creations. This paper will explore the tense relationship between abstract, figurative, and documentary dimensions in Marichal’s 1980's Super 8 work: in the artist’s own words, her conceptual movement between “cosmic” and “colonial” sensibilities, a “psychopathology of colonization”.
Dr Gordon-Burroughs is a Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Edinburgh. Her manuscript in preparation is titled Foreign Elements: Latin American cinematic experiments in dis-placement. Her research has been supported by the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University, the Elmer Adler Fund in graphic arts at Princeton University, and The Carnegie Trust. Her essays have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Cinema Journal, Discourse, among other journals and collections.