Fully Immersive Art

Oscar-winning director brings innovative virtual reality experience to Fair Park Dallas

Oscar-winning director brings innovative VR experience to Dallas

CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible)
CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) will open on January 21 at Fair Park in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Legendary

The Nasher Sculpture Center, in a partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, is bringing to Dallas the virtual reality exhibition CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible), conceived by Academy Award-winning writer and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

The solo immersive experience recounts the harrowing plight of Central American and Mexican refugees. It will run January 21-April 18, 2022 at the Food & Fiber Pavilion at Fair Park.

CARNE y ARENA employs the highest virtual technology to create a large, multi-narrative light space with human characters. Based on true accounts, the superficial lines between subject and bystander are blurred and bound together, allowing individuals to walk in a vast space and thoroughly live a fragment of the refugees’ personal journeys.

The experimental visual installation reunites Iñárritu with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman). Originally produced by Legendary Entertainment, Fondazione Prada, and Emerson Collective, it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 as the first VR experience ever chosen as part of the festival’s Official Selection. In 2018, Iñárritu was presented with a special Oscar for the installation “in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling.”

“During the several years in which this project had been growing in my mind, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing many Mexican and Central American refugees," Iñárritu said in a statement. "Their life stories haunted me, so I invited some of them to collaborate with me in the project. 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."

The Dallas presentation is possible through the support of Emerson Collective, a group that deploys a wide range of tools — from impact investing to philanthropy to advocacy — in pursuit of a more equal and just America. The Nasher Sculpture Center and the Bush Center created their partnership to further constructive conversations about immigration.

“The profound power of CARNE y ARENA is putting yourself in another person’s shoes, building empathy, and discovering there is more to someone’s lived experience than what you read or see in the news,” said Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective, in a statement. “We are honored to work with the Nasher Sculpture Center and the George W. Bush Presidential Center to offer Texans the opportunity to experience this exhibition, create dialogue, and broaden awareness about immigrants.”

CARNE y ARENA will be accessible to the public through advance bookings, but tickets are limited. Tickets, which range from $35-$55, are now available at nashersculpturecenter.org.