28 November 2019

Rare Earths

Video, color, sound, 28 min

Rare earths represent the materiality of our time. This group of metals, so called because of the difficulties met in their discovery, are present in almost all the technological devices that define our daily lives: from the screens of mobile phones to the batteries of electric cars. Key components of an increasingly digitalized world, rare earths are the leitmotiv of this video essay, which, through a searching exploration of the author’s place of origin, offers a poetic reflection on the landscape and the gaze that gives it form.
From intimate, personal scenes emerge satellite images of the world’s largest rare earth mine, in its own digital materiality and with an almost pictorial quality, revealing the delicate relationship between beauty and destruction. Campo de Montiel, meantime, seems to us a strange land, under the shadow of depopulation, threatened by a proposed rare earth mine that could cause its utter devastation. The feeling that accompanies us from Bayan Obo in China to the meseta of La Mancha is a feeling of displacement.
But let us not forget that displacement is the essential condition of any landscape. The gaze turned on a place that it no longer belongs to or can barely recognize, observing that which is other than itself, is the gaze that invariably issues from a process of separation. The distance opened up by our gaze on the world is a danger zone inhabited by ghosts with the power to create new realities. This way of looking, which generates the technologies of territory but also memories and emotions, can be creative, yet also lethal.
Rare earths is the depiction of an external space, the plateau of La Mancha, but also of an inner, personal space traversed by this dry landscape; and a crack, a wound or a mine that marks the passage from one to the other. An unfinished search, an impossible journey that, like a Moebius strip, ends up confusing inside and out.