Just like sinkholes – these gaping holes that, since the 1980s, have damaged the roads and tourist sites along the shores of the Dead Sea (which bathes Israel but also Jordan and the occupied West Bank) at breathtaking speed – SALARIUM causes a collapse in the viewers’ perception: it obliterates their conception of this territory as being essentially empty, a space offered to tourists for its salty uniqueness. Drawing on the shared etymology of the words “salary” and “soldier”, the filmmakers re-inject a strand of history and politics into this space now given up to leisure (three soldiers enjoy their ice cream on the beach, a group of fifty-somethings living on the edge of the Judean Desert unpack their soda cans, deckchairs and transistors). The focus on a geological phenomenon that is exacerbated by human activity changes our view of a “natural treasure”. Can the restorative mud with which bathers daub themselves be reduced to such cosmetic use? And what about the quad bikes that criss-cross the desert? When exactly does exploitation of this place tip into environmental destruction? And how come the cataclysmic words of a hippy prophet echoe Chapter 8 of the Book of Daniel? “By making the Earth uninhabitable for the future, the sinkholes appear as both the symptom and active cause of the failure of this colonialist project to instrumentalise nature.”
- DANIEL MANN
- SASHA LITVINTSEVA
Daniel Mann (US/UK) is a London-based filmmaker and writer. He is currently completing his PhD thesis at Goldsmiths on image warfare and the integration of habitual media into armed conflict. Mann’s films have been shown internationally. His latest feature film, LOW TIDE, was premiered at the 2017 Berlinale Forum and received the Best First Feature Award at the 2017 Haifa Film Festival. His most recent film, SALARIUM co-directed with Sasha Litvintseva screened at Cinéma du Réel 2018.
Sasha Litvintseva (b. 1989, Russia) is an artist filmmaker and researcher based in London and Berlin. Her work is situated on the intersection of geological, embodied, and historical temporalities and materialities. Her work has been exhibited worldwide including Berlinale Forum Expanded, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Videobrasil, The Moscow Biennale for Young Art, Wroclaw Media Art Biennale, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Kunstverein Gottingen, Union Pacific gallery, London, Carlos Ishikawa gallery, London, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival, Kasseler Dokfest, Cinema Du Reel. A graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, she is currently working on a PhD proposing the concept of geological filmmaking at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is a founding member of the Screen and Audiovisual Research Unit and associate lecturer in Media Arts. She is also an independent curator of contemporary moving image and co-curator of the November Film Festival. Her most recent film, SALARIUM co-directed with Daniel Mann screened at Cinéma du Réel 2018.