Dora García’s practice stems from a sustained investigation around building fiction and the mechanisms to represent the real. Drawing from conceptual practices, her work overtly possesses a narrative dimension arising from her interest in writers such as James Joyce, Robert Walser and J. G. Ballard, playwrights that include Antonin Artaud and Samuel Beckett, and psychoanalysts and psychiatrists like Oscar Masotta, to whom she pays homage in the film Segunda Vez (Second Time, 2018).
The title of the feature-length film Segunda Vez comes from the homonymous story by Julio Cortázar, written in 1974, which tells of the repressive machinery related to those who disappeared and were detained through state terrorism in Argentina and explores the possibilities of representing government violence in writing. In her version, Dora García explores mechanisms used to approach the real in scenes by applying techniques of alienation and estrangement, in proximity to Bertolt Brecht’s theatre, which reveal the devices and mechanics of dramatic literature, granting the spectator an active role.
In the film she uses, as a connecting thread, the thought of Oscar Masotta, the founder of the Freudian school who introduced Lacanian theories into Argentina, Mexico and Barcelona, where he died in 1979. Masotta was a rara avis due to the divergence of his thinking and the impact it had on politics, as well as his interventions inside art’s avant-garde, amounting to an obscure, against-the-grain body of work that is starting to be examined in recent years. This marginal and dissident stance deriving from work outside the norm and at the limits of the institution, but not necessarily outside it, is also where Dora García’s own work operates.
Segunda Vez is a film comprising four short films, or chapters, in which García unravels the polyhedral, unapproachable figure of Masotta, in particular his artistic and activist practice as a scholar of the mass media and as the instigator of happenings and anti-happenings, which he claimed were crucial in political activism. In each of the short pieces she replicates Masotta’s happenings, whereby the position of the audience plays a central role to record these duplications. In the first episode, El helicóptero (The Helicopter), she repeats and films, in the Basque Country, the happening under the same name that Masotta carried out in 1967 in Buenos Aires, with participants splitting into two groups to orally share different experiences at the end: one group attended a series of happenings in a theatre as the others waited while nothing happened, until finally a helicopter passed overhead with a famous actress. In the second, Para inducir el espíritu de la imagen (To Induce the Spirit of the Image), she repeats and records, once again in Buenos Aires and as fifty years previously, one of the most controversial actions in the 1960s Argentinian art scene, whereby Masotta paid a group of actors to behave like beggars on the stage while the audience in the Instituto Di Tella watched them. The third episode, Segunda Vez (Second Time Around), also filmed in the Argentinean capital, is the adaptation of a same-titled story by Julio Cortázar and a thespian improvisation that narrates, from repeated conversations, how state terrorism in Argentina under the dictatorship worked. The film closes with La Eterna (The Everlasting), a short film which, in the form of an epilogue, convenes a group of people in a library in Leuven with ties to performance, psychonalysis and politics so they can analyse Masotta’s work and the concepts running through it, for instance metafiction and repetition.