But since the late 1990s, access to video cameras and the knowledge required to produce our own images have become increasingly common, allowing more autonomous types of stories to be told. However, ethnographic and self-determined depictions do not usually inhabit the same spaces. The former exist in public and private archives, while the latter are often kept in family collections or stored by the creators themselves.
Commemorating vivid experiences via audiovisual storytelling plays a key role in preserving cultural knowledge. It serves as our own way of representation. But what happens to those images when they are stored and preserved in archives? Should we desire the archive? Should we claim for ourselves these modes of accumulating, categorizing, keeping, and safeguarding? Do we wish to appropriate the categorical language of the museums, encyclopedias, and archives that have been complicit in conquering our territories?
Do we wish to appropriate the categorical language of the museums, encyclopedias, and archives that have been complicit in conquering our territories?
Approaching the concept of the archive from an Ayuuk perspective creates a space for dialogue about the permanence of pictures and their potential for preserving local memory. This requires the value of the images to be continually reiterated to benefit the common interest, and a preservation perspective is a necessary step to get there. The short video Éstado de Ánimo (Mood; 2014)2 offers an example of what can happen when such images sit dormant. The found-footage video was recorded by Genaro Rojas when he was working as an elementary school teacher in San Juan Juquila Mixes, and highlights concerns about the potential of memory that inhabits forgotten objects, as well as the need to create tales of both what they meant to others and what these memories offer for multiple contemporary readings. Recorded at the turn of the century, it sat for more than ten years until Hermenegildo and Carlos Pérez (cousin of the Rojas brothers) began working on a collaborative documentary, Barras de Color (Color Bars), about TV Tamix’s history.
Seated before the camera in Mood, Genaro is visibly frustrated, aware that dusk is approaching and worried about not having enough light to record the objects before him: cups, mezcal bottles, dustpans, and more. He ponders the possibilities of using video as a tool to impress this moment, saying: “These objects are abandoned now. Forgotten in some corner. No one sees them. They seem totally useless. All these objects you are seeing are part of my surroundings. I live with them; I share this part of the Earth with them.” Genaro’s concern for the objects in the shabby courtyard parallels a later problem: the deterioration of the cassettes on which the images from TV Tamix are preserved.