Walking in the Immigrants’ Feet
Based on true accounts from Central American and Mexican refugees, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s conceptual virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) explores the human condition of immigrants and refugees. On view in Washington D.C.
If you want to experience the feeling of crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S on foot, you don’t need to travel to Arizona or California. A trip to Washington D.C will be enough to feel on your own skin the suffering, fear and physical exhaustion of those who decide to leave everything behind to follow their dreams and start a new life in another country.
Mexican Academy Award winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s virtual reality exhibition, CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) explores the human condition of refugees and immigrants that dare to cross the US-Mexico border. And it’s free (although advance registration is required).
Premiered last May at the 70th Cannes Film Festival as the first virtual reality project to be featured in the festival's history, CARNE y ARENA is a six-and-a-half minute solo experience based on true accounts from Central American and Mexican refugees. Through state-of-the-art technology, visitors to CARNE y ARENA will walk in a vast space and live a fragment of a refugee’s personal journey.
“During the past five years in which this project has been growing in my mind, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing many Mexican and Central American refugees,” Iñárritu said, as quoted in the press release of the exhibition.
“Their life stories haunted me, so I invited some of them to collaborate with me on the project. My intention was to experiment with VR technology to explore the human condition in an attempt to break the dictatorship of the frame—within which things are just observed—and claim the space to allow the visitor to go through a direct experience walking in the immigrants’ feet, under their skin, and into their hearts.”
In 2017, Iñárritu was presented a special Oscar for CARNE y ARENA, recognized by the Academy as an exceptional storytelling experience. Before coming to Washington D.C, the installation was exhibited a the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Tlatelolco University Cultural Center in Mexico City and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
“Alejandro’s visionary works have sparked our imaginations and broadened our perspectives,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director (LACMA exhibited Carne y Arena last year), as quoted in the website of Carne y Arena.
“Using this immersive technology, he has gone beyond the confines of the cinematic screen to create an entirely new narrative art form. And while the images immediately depicted in Alejandro’s immersive artwork conjure the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the real subject of the work is larger: the many times in history and art history that borders have become places of conflict and opportunity, and the many people whose identities have been lost to history.”
The exhibition was made in contribution with Emmanuel Lubezki, one of the most innovative cinematographers known for his groundbreaking uses of natural lighting and continuous uninterrupted shots.
Check the website for future events and ticket reservations: www.carneyarenadc.com (tickets are not available on-site). The
Location is 1611 Benning Road NE, Washington D.C., 20002.