From left: Carne y Arena by Alejandro G Inarritu, Picasso's Guernica, Goya's Third of May, Manet's Execution of Emperor Maximilian
Carne Y Arena, Alejandro Inarritu's VR contribution to raise awareness about the plight of illegal immigrants at LACMA is a worthy effort at literally putting us in the shoes of the desperate men, women and children who will do anything, pay anything, to cross the Mexico/US border. The room-by-room entry to the 'desert' where illegals face the undisguised wrath of border agents, the overhead drone of helicopters, and the exhaustion of many miles navigating the desert in the dark is compelling. I understand the impulse to put us there, I understand the impulse to have us share the terror and deprivation. The technology however, is not the most compelling part of the exhibition. Instead, what moved me most was staring into the eyes of the actual models for his VR characters whose film portraits are lined up in a narrow gallery bordered by an actual piece of a border fence as a bilingual scroll of their personal stories runs over their weathered, haunted faces as you exit the exhibition Carne Y Arena, instead of being noted as a tech innovation, should be classified along with Picasso's haunting Guernica or Goya's Third of May about the Spanish resistance to Napoleon, or Manet's Execution ofEmperor Maximilian, all passionate testaments, bearing witness to the powerful overwhelming the powerless. Carne y Arena adds to the conversation of what our country means to us, and the slippage from our founding ideals to those of the current administration. Que Lastima.