After conquering Hollywood, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is delving into the world of virtual reality with a project that’s shedding light on the immigrant experience. Alongside his cinematic life partner, Emmanuel Lubezki, the Mexican director is using the medium to tell the stories of Mexican and Central American immigrants and refugees in a new installation. The exhibition – titled Alejandro G. Iñárritu: CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) – began its run at the Fondzione Prada in Milan on June 7. It will remain on display until January 15, 2018. It will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on July 2.
CARNE y ARENA, which made its debut at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, is based on real-life events. And through a six-and-a-half minute virtual reality experience gives museum visitors a chance to see the journey of refugees in a personal way. Iñárritu worked on this project for the last few years, interviewing immigrants in the desert.
“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,” Iñárritu said in a LACMA press release. “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.”
At a time fraught with anti-immigrant sentiment, the exhibition is especially timely. Although CARNE y ARENA is likely to conjure up visions of the highly politicized United States-Mexico border, it intends to speak on how borders across the world offer both challenges and new beginnings.
The exhibition is part of The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology partnership with LACMA.