This video work is about the asymmetrical nature present in relationships of power. To exemplify this, the controversial relationship between the foresting company UPM and the artist’s home country, Uruguay, is used.
In 2019, the building of a new UPM pulp plant in Uruguay was confirmed by its government and the company. The deal signed by both parties had problematic elements regarding the environmental, economical, social and educational impact the plant would have, motivating a series of protests from different social and political groups.
Not only was the contract itself polemical, but also the obscure and troubling way it was carried out, leaving out the people who were directly affected by this project and Uruguay’s society as a whole.
Another element that is important to mention is the communication of this agreement. It was widely presented (and promoted) as the “deal of the century”, bringing much-needed capital to an underdeveloped part of the country. The details of the paperwork signed made this statement dubious. This mediated aspect serves as the basis for the video work.
The piece displays a failed reenactment of a video from 2017 which showcased an official visit from Uruguay’s president and several of the country’s ministers to UPM’s then-new headquarters in Helsinki, the Biofore House. This particular video is of note for several reasons, such as showing a relaxed tour of UPM’s facilities by Uruguay’s elite, being uploaded to the presidential office’s official Youtube account, and being used as a background video in many local newsreels explaining this deal. The video provides a platform rich in signs, gestures, location, and form in which to build an alternative take on this troubled relationship.
The reenactment was originally going to be comprised originally of an imitation of almost every aspect of the original video. From the location to the lighting, camera angles, camera movements, and coloring. The main difference residing in the lack of “event” to be covered; by re-shooting the same angles in the present, there would not have been any subjects to follow, just the empty atrium of the building and UPM’s workers passing through.
While making the preparations for this video, permission to film in UPM’s office was not granted. This prompted a change in plans: the whole shooting was to be done with a hidden camera. The result is a truncated try to replicate the original video. It also produced the image that would be in the middle of the original and the reenactment: the blurred close-up of the scarf used to hide the camera.
The re-filming of this political promotion by a common Uruguayan citizen in Finland is in itself a gesture, as the person re-traces the steps that surrounded the contract -much like a journalist would do- to bring forth a vision of the quite literal physical and conceptual framing that much of the political and commercial process had. The unexpected obstacle while filming made some elements of the work more focused; emphasizing on the failed try to reach for clarity and transparency within the process of this deal, while also reflecting on the way certain perspectives are ignored and silenced when agreements between powerful agents take place.
Diego Zalovich is an artist and designer based in Montevideo, Uruguay. He has worked for the last years designing and developing interactive experiences and video work that explore the expressive possibilities and limits of each medium.
Having first worked in the field of interactive design, he later transitioned towards a more experimental approach after taking part in a number of art courses and seminars on contemporary art. He has participated in a number of exhibitions in Uruguay and online in The Wrong Biennale.
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