Some years ago fresh out of Artschool I wrote down my life’s mission: to keep the magic of daily life alive, to show others the beauty that I saw, teach them to see it too and to care about our world. And then, all I held so dear would be protected.
And yes, I have danced with the world’s magic like we were lovers, but I have not been able to protect her. Burning cigarettes are put out on her skin, plastic bags are stuck in her hair, empty drinking cans fill her stomach and so, the day arrived that we could not dance anymore.
It was a painful time after that, in which I tortured myself with hatred, disgust and anger that put only more ugliness into my days until I could not stand it anymore and started to pick up other people’s trash.
And although this immensely small act got me up on my feet and dancing again, it is not enough and I have to ask you: Please diminish the amount of waste you create, please pay attention to where you leave your trash.
Clean ups organised by
As you might have already read somewhere on these pages, my road to becoming an environmental activist was a bit, let’s say, controversial. But it also is a great example of the lack of insight we have in the harm that we actually do (at times even when we think we do good). Our education isn’t actually providing us an honest view neither does it focus on what is important for us to know to create a better life on this planet.
For example, I remember that, in my very early teens, I found an explanation in a schoolbook for why the poor nations In the world are poor. It was said that their geographic areas had less resources and therefore they had not been able to develop like us in the western world. Now, in the second half of my thirties, I am reading a book that provides quite a different explanation: it is our western lifestyle that is keeping the rest of the world poor.
(Ecofeminism, by Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies)
Though we are educated to see colonialism as something of the past, it is still very alive until today, now having a slightly different name: capitalism.
Capitalism steals not only exotic animals, but also healthy lands from people living there peacefully, to then fully deplete and toxify them. It grows food that is unhealthy for our bodies. It sells clothing created by and filled with chemicals that are making our rivers (our drinkingwater) unfit for life. It makes us buy make-up for which, in a far away land, little girls have died while scavenging in mines for a compound called ´mica’. For make-up…… that is sold in loads of packaging, like all of its other products, that we then dispose of improperly, leaving cities and natural areas littered with trash.
Where I live (Portugal, ´Grande´ Lisboa), trash flies freely through the streets, in parks, forests, rivers. It’s very painful to see that people care so little, that people cannot see the harm that they do to themselves, but most importantly, to all life that is innocent, that had no share in our destructive ways.
YOU is the story of how I managed to deal with this ugliness in my world; from denial to panic, to sadness to finding an enormous piece of trash floating in the stream in front of my house that I couldn’t bear to look at anymore, so I jumped into the water and took it out.
In those times (from fall 2019 to spring 2020) , besides those dreamy landscapes that seem to pass by in slow-motion, scenes that come to me naturally, I started to document the trash lying around. My videos are often characterized by still and longer shots in which subtle, real time movement creates a hint of time passing by, of a story wanting to be told. I first attempted to get this effect from the trash as well. But since trash is often blown around until it reaches windless corners, there was not much movement there to be seen. Even flies would fly away when I arrived.
It made me realize that the trash had to be shown in a different way, it had to make a real contrast with the beautiful: I had to create ugly scenes! Actually, I already had ugly scenes, for I sometimes forget to turn off my camera before taking it of the tripod and put it back in my bag. These wild and messy accidental shots were perfect to portray the panic and disorientation erupting from a brutal attack on one’s safe and pretty world.
Next to that I started to shoot many photographs of the trash, for these could be easily edited into fast flashing scenes, like suppressed memories that uninvitedly pop up.
The film is divided in 6 parts. The first is a beautiful and joyful day in which everything seems perfect and innocent. In the second day the problem really shows itself but is waved away like a bad dream. But the third day is taken over by trash and ugliness, panic and disorientation, followed by the fourth part: a time of feeling completely defeated.
The narration is inspired by a feeling, beautifully voiced by writers like Bhai Vir Singh or Rabindranath Tagore, that the relationship one has with the world is similar to that of a relationships between lovers. The world being the other that you desire to see, hear and dance with. Part 5 therefore is the lover calling back the other who thinks love had been lost. The love is still there, but some mature and responsible, but immensely simple or small action has to be taken for the love to flourish again. And once this has been done, we arrive at the closing part: a happy ending. Because though I know that the health of the planet is in a really bad condition, I have to believe that we can still safe her. Without that belief I would be practically dead.
So, is my shortfilm going to save the world? No. Much more action is needed. Most importantly information, awareness needs to be spread. As mentioned before we are dealing with an incredible lack of insight. Information on the harmful effects of our trash on the planet, on ourselves, is not well spread, or not communicated in a way that people can really relate it to their day to day life. A lot of work still has to be done, in this and other areas. This little film was just a little start….