Nicaraguan political history, particularly of the 25 years post- Sandinista Revolution, which put an end to Anastasio Somoza’s 40-year dictatorship, is one of the themes treated by Ernerto Salmerón in is work. With strong political sense and the experimental use of images, some of them taken from archives, Salmerón’s videos and photographs generate multiple meanings in regard to image, memory, and politics.

Instead of contenting himself with a glorious past, officially constructed by history, Ernersto Salmerón reconstructs those images with new elements of the current political situation in Nicaragua. This can be related to the opening text of Documento 1/29, directed by Salmerón and Mauricio Prietto, which mentions a “post-post-post revideolución en Nicaragua”. This “revideoluion” may show us and specially understand and show the history. We may find aesthetic appropriations connected with a deep political view.

This connection becomes more evident in the series Documentos (Documents). In the first video, Documento 1/29, we find a careful editing work which shows images of dictator Somoza and the soldiers of his government, while the narrator repeats exhaustively the word democracy. Thus, through those images and successive repetitions, it seems that Salmerón is trying to present new views on the dictatorship in Nicaragua and its consequences. These videos (1/29, 2/29, 3/29) can be regarded as memory exercises that build new parameters for recent history.

If some of Salmerón’s videos present an experimental style well-balanced with a traditional format, as María Isabel Urrutia (2003), a documentary on the Colombian weightlifter who won a gold medal in Sydney Olympic Games in 2000; other videos like Auras of war are full of experimental verve.

This documentary was conceived, first, to record the delivery to the Sandinistas of photographs taken during the celebration of the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution 2000, in a kind of documentation/ homage to the Sandinistas. Salmerón assembled photographs – of children, youngsters, couples and families, revealing the diversity of the Nicaraguan people – in a poster that displayed a worn-out image of Sandino on its back.  However, when he arrived with his posters at that celebrate on of the 25th anniversary of the revolution on 19 July 2004, the reception was quite different from what was expected.

What was intended as a homage was taken as an insult, and people approached Salmerón, who had to justify himself. A reporter of a sensationalist TV channel complicated the situation. In the video, these images are juxtaposed with images of the printing process of the posters. This work was made through a process which includes the recording of the printing process, the encounter with people in the streets, the clash with the sensationalist TV channel, and, naturally, the photographs taken in 2000, the starting point for this work. 

Some of Samerón’s videos are produced together with E.V.E.L. Ejercito Videasta Latinoamericano (Latin-American Video Army), a group that promotes experimental video workshops and works like the ironical Press note 001 (2004), which reveals the censorship at the first Central-American Anticorruption Conference. This video shows, in a kind of TV news programmed full of visual and audio interferences, the censorship of some political works, particularly the one that asked people to choose the most corrupt politician among three options, including the president of Nicaragua.

Salmerón combines formal experimentation with images and political action, what can be related to some of Paul Garrin’s works, like A man with the camera (fuck you Vertov) (1989). It was through José-Carlos Mariátegui, director of ATA – Alta Tecnología Andina, and a frequent collaborator with Associação Cultural Videobrasil, that we became acquainted with Ernesto Salmerón’s work, which we have the pleasure to present in this new edition of the FF>> Dossier.