¿Como ´ nombrar en este mundo
con esta sola boca en este
mundo con esta sola boca?
[How to name in this world
with only this mouth in this
world with only this mouth?]
—Olga Orozco, Eclipses y fulgores
I N T R O D U C T I O N
The documentary film, Fernando ha vuelto (Fernando returns) (directed by
Silvio Caiozzi, 1998), narrates the efforts of forensic scientists to identify a
skeleton that had been exhumed years earlier from a common grave for Pi-
nochet’s victims.After examiningphotographs, dental x-rays,and compar-
ative dna chartings, the medical team was able to prove conclusively that
the bones belonged to young Fernando, a mir activist who disappeared in
1973. They then presented the reconstructed skeleton to the victim’s
spouse. This was a shocking, intensely dramatic scene, filmed from an
angle that invited the viewer to recall Mantegna’s Christ or the celebrated
photo of Che Guevara’s corpse. Here, the widow’s flesh drew near to Fer-
nando’s bones, the couple’s first encounter after more than twenty years.
Themateriality ofthe body(and whatgreater densitycould giveexpression
to the body than its weight in bone?) was thus unmistakably claimed; bone
and personal identity, past history and current moment were linked in a
single image, joining the visual presence of the skeleton to the highly un-
representable aspects of physical and emotional pain. Only family
drama—inaugurated by the gendered gaze of Fernando’s wife—offered a
transition from fact to narration; it supplied a well-known arc of emplot-
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