If in any other shooting the models would stand for de-raced subjects, merely attractive women, the performances in Huellas paradoxically put forward the bodies’ whiteness. The obvious distance between the represented racial identity and that of the model makes her whiteness visible, implying for the spectator the acknowledgment of the racialised nature of the economy of desire that necessarily excludes the Amerindians even when they are being personified. Therefore, if the calendar reinforces the dominant racialised codes of beauty and femininity, at the same time it contains an excess of meaning that interpellates the spectator. In other words, the viewer is confronted with an absence, the indigenous body, which cannot be ignored, and this suggests a possible site for questioning whiteness, even if is at the same time white as norm is reiterated.

For Sarah Ahmed, fantasies of becoming the racial other such as those inscribed in cross-dressing can also be linked to a desire for mastery through knowledge: «the other is not simply the object of scrutiny, but the site of ambivalence, of a desire which repels, of a desire which moves beyond the opposition positive/negative. That desire is closely linked to knowledge; the desire to know the other […] to take the place of the other». [11]

This aspiration of knowledge is made explicit by the Herbstein studio in its strategy to present the calendar not only as an art object but also as an anthropological document. In a text that accompanies the photographs, along brief descriptions of every ethnic group there are some pages on the calendar’s making-of that emphasise the rigorous research involved in its preparation.

«In order to faithfully recreate aboriginal clothes, Gaby carried out an anthropological research that took a year and included contributions from aboriginal people, anthropologists and historians. As part of this research, she went to indigenous reservations and ethnographic and archaeological museums, and she collected 19th-Century photographs. The calendar’s photographs, and the reconstruction of indigenous clothes done especially for it, do not have any precedents and has become reference material in educational contexts». [12]

The inclusion of a text by well-known ethno-historian Carlos Martínez Sarasola also provides legitimacy to the calendar’s alleged objectivity. Thus, Huellas assumes a multiple status: art object, fashion product and anthropological document. «Gaby Herbstein decides […] to follow the Traces of the Argentinian past». [13] In the making-of video Herbstein states: «To go towards the future you need to know your past, don’t you? I think it’s… very difficult to move forwards without knowing who you’re». [14] Furthermore, Julieta Garavaglia, the calendar’s art director, adds: «One has to become aware… of where we’re from». [15]

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