|2017||Alejandro González Iñárritu|
Visit the project
“During the past four 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. Their life stories haunted me, so I invited some of them to collaborate with me in 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.”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Author and Director, in Eye Film
Carne y Arena is a conceptual virtual reality installation by Alejandro G. Iñárritu’ that explores the human condition of immigrants and refugees. Based on immigrants’ and refugees’ true stories, the immersive installation recreates a dangerous but commonplace encounter between a caravan of refugees and the U.S. Border Patrol. The experiences blurs the lines between subject and bystander, allowing participants to experience what it might be like to cross the U.S. border.
The immersive installation takes place in three segments. First, participants are placed in a “detention room” where they are asked to place their shoes and belongings in a locker. Then, participants enter a dark, vast space filled with sand, where they put on a headset, headphones, and a backpack unit to experience a 6 ½-minute virtual reality sequence that transports them to the Chihuahuan Desert. In VR participants join a caravan of migrants being led by a coyote to across the U.S. border. The third segment of the experience is a video art installation in another room that reflects on the accounts of migrants and refugees who fled El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Iñárritu, an Oscar-winning director and filmmaker from Mexico, said that Carne y Arena was inspired by his interviews with dozens of immigrants from Latin America who survived the border. In a talk at the Phillips Collection, the filmmaker said, “There’s a part of journalism here, and there’s a documentary part. It’s a reenactment of their lives. It’s a slice of their nightmare, let’s put it that way.”