Alejandro G. Iñárritu: CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible)


A translucent red heart in a desert sunset landscape with a dashed line through the center. The left side is labeled "U.S." and the right "T.H.E.M.".

Alejandro G. Iñárritu: CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible). Image Provided by LACMA.

About the Exhibition

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s conceptual virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) explored the human condition of immigrants and refugees. Based on true accounts, the superficial lines between subject and bystander were blurred and bound together, allowing individuals to walk in a vast space and experience a fragment of the refugees’ personal journeys. CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible), presented at LACMA as part of The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology, centered around a 6 ½-minute virtual reality sequence that employed state-of-the-art immersive technology to create a multi-narrative light space with human characters.

“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. Their life stories haunted me, so I invited some of them to collaborate with me on the project,” Iñárritu says. “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.”

About the Artist

Alejandro G. Iñárritu is one of the most acclaimed and well-regarded filmmakers working today. Iñárritu directed, produced, and co-wrote The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and tells a tale of revenge set against the harrowing backdrop of the 19th-century American frontier. The film earned Iñárritu his second consecutive Academy Award for Best Director, which he had won the previous year for Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The dark comedy, which Iñárritu also co-wrote and produced, took home the prize for Best Picture as well as earned honors for Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Iñárritu is the first Mexican filmmaker to ever win for either director or producer in the history of the Academy Awards. Other previous credits include the Spanish-language and Oscar-nominated Biutiful, Babel, for which Iñárritu won the Best Director Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and the critically acclaimed 21 Grams, which earned nominations for Lead Actress (Naomi Watts) and Supporting Actor (Benicio del Toro). Iñárritu made his feature directorial debut in 2001 with Academy Award-nominated Amores Perros, a drama that explores Mexican society told through the perspective of three intertwining stories connected by a car accident in Mexico City.

About the Program

The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology

The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology at LACMA supports exhibitions and programs that spark dialogue, inspire empathy, and encourage collaboration beyond boundaries. As a first step towards this goal, we supported the museum’s acquisition of major works by Robert Irwin and James Turrell, two now legendary artists who were members of LACMA’s original Art and Technology Lab program (1967–1971). Continuing its mission, The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology at LACMA presents exhibitions that illuminate the profound interplay between art and technology, underscoring their pivotal role in comprehending humanity and shaping our encounters with the future.

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