Artist Mario Brondo recently completed a series of 8 videos that were shot in the Western Sahara refugee camps and mined frontier with Morocco, which is considered the largest and the one with the most mines in the world.
The series uses a different expression technique in each piece, although they have many factors that keep the unity of the piece. All the chapters are narrated by a pc robotic voice. This is rather interesting, as the “subject” speaking to us is artificial intelligence, and hence has an automated series of mistakes. To enhance that quality, Mario Brondo goes even beyond: the spoken texts come from (curated) random searches on the internet speaking of each chapter´s central theme. For instance, I will talk about 4 episodes:
Fresco shows from the distance a synthesis of the lifestyle that the improvised (but very well set) the refugee camps host. The narrator uses a poetic historic tone that transforms into an open protest towards the end. Many fragments come from Spanish soldiers´ testimonials, when they used to live in Villa Cisneros, now called Dakjla. They mostly speak of sensations, such as temperature, smell, breeze, beauty and generosity. Contrast is brutal with the images presented.
Archaeology, is perhaps the episode that best reflects the artist´s eye and taste. It is a series of still shots, that show mainly abandoned and corrodes vehicles being swallowed by the desert since 1979. Voice-over and music resources are brilliantly exploited. The text is an amalgam of Wikipedia´s Archaeology article, along with humorous interventions by the author. As all many of the resources used by Brondo in this work, music was also forced into the artwork/film, and it comes from free-license music under www pseudonim authorship.
Sirocco, is a no-nonsense, open and even violent protest to the world potencies that keep this situation since 1975. Sirocco is how the Saharaui people call the wind that comes from the Mediterranean Sea, causing sand storms that difficult even more the living of the refugees in an already indignant situation; in a desert impregnated with misery, mines, and some of the toughest weather conditions in the planet.
La Guerra (The War), is my favourite episode: It depicts the Saharaui people, claiming their freedom in a deaf shout in the middle of the desert. It also shows brave people walking through te mined camp, and how they manage to recognize the safe paths. For each mine they put off, or detect, they signalize the spot by placing flowers knit by the saharaui women. The music denotes heroism, and the voice over reads a text by Alessandro Baricco, that talks about the beauty of war, its importance, and how to overcome the fascination we experience since the beginning of human history. A real jewel!
The importance of the art in war settings can be of enormous interest for historians and politicians, as it becomes a document, and pa proof. It is also fundamental to many people, as they rarely have the opportunity to know what is it about to live in a situation of war. That generates empathy and unity among people throughout the world.
For more information, please visit Mario’s site HERE.