May 11, 2010 - May 15, 2010 19:00
… here they are, chin on chest,
shoulders against backrest,
mouth over a tiny piece
of bread dripped with oil, chewing painfully,
poverty-stricken and dark like dogs
over a stolen morsel: and there rises
if you look at his eyes, his hands,
on his cheekbones a pitiful flush,
in which enemy is laid bare his soul.
You go astray in the inner paradise,
And even your pity is his enemy.
(Pier Paolo Pasolini, La terra di lavoro)
On September 11 2008, Pando in the Bolivian jungle was the scene of a massacre of peasants: 11 deaths officially confirmed, hundreds wounded by gunfire and dozens missing, including women and children, to whom no-one has ever given a name, a face, a story.
In our part of the world, Bolivian peasants hardly matter at all.
In this work I make no attempt to offer a contrasting view, my interest is directed elsewhere, to what may be found in Pasolini’s poem.
My pity which is their enemy, and which is a matter of indifference to most people, is what binds me to the land where I lived for twenty years and from which I am perhaps taking my leave.
Behind that pitiful flush, in which enemy is laid bare his soul there is the human element which always forces me to look at the ruins of wars fought elsewhere, which demands an explanation for the private tragedies perpetrated behind closed doors, and which links together the forsaken among whom I feel more and more that I belong.
The suffering of others belongs to me just as my suffering belongs to no-one.
It is this awareness of utter uselessness that brings this work into being to investigate events, dreams, loneliness, stories reconstructed and reinvented of people; and it is only the heavy sleep of well-being that can lull us into believing that they belong to a distant world, while it is merely the other side of our medal.