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My battery is low 
and  it's  getting dark 

Report from the Wasteland

Who will be, in the not too distant future, the Christopher Columbus of some planet?

Amado Nervo


Coordinates: 25° 41' 45'' N 101° 45' 59''. A probe is sent to survey the rugged topography of the border desert. During the expedition he discovers an unusual find: a steel monolith. His invading presence governs the central composition of the minimalist scene. He also finds, buried in the sand, a golden plaque based on the design of the Pioneer 10 probe with an enigmatic inscription. Confusing vestiges, collapsed buildings, bushes, dust, oblivion. Constellation of environmental elements that form the backbone of the cinematographic plot of My battery is low and it's getting dark, the first individual exhibition in Mexico City by the artist Carlos Vielma (Saltillo, 1982).

Due to its high narrative value, the exhibition takes a significant turn in Vielma's production and visual language, although it gives continuity to his central thematic concerns: the border landscape, the monument and architecture. The main trigger is the video that shows the journey of the apocryphal space probe on Mars, Coahuila, a ghost town located in the middle of the road. Immortalized through painting, drawing and video, Mars is offered to us as a universe in ruins, desolate, melancholic, emptied of horizons, where, although some signs of its occupation are palpable, there are no signs of human life. This perhaps stems from the pessimistic sentiment of speculating about a world after the catastrophe. With the lexicon of science fiction a powerful allegory is built. Through this genre -unusual in the field of Mexican visual arts-, socio-historical problems of peripheral contexts in the north of the country and the tensions between modernity and backwardness are enunciated.

A Ray Bradbury story called "A Million Year Picnic" serves as inspiration. It tells the story of Timothy, a young man who travels with his family to the planet Mars, with the deceptive premise of organizing a day of fishing and glimpse the Martians. Tim discovers on the way that his father has concocted the plan as a way to escape from planet earth: a war wiped out the entire population and they must start over as colonists. If the expectation was to see the Martians, when they peek into the river water they discover that, from now on, they will be the Martians. The absurd approach of the American writer establishes a futuristic and overwhelming tone. Various references from music, film and literature intersect in an echo chamber: the experimental music of Laurie Anderson, the expanded piano compositions of Henry Cowell, the 2001 space epic. A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick, and the rural and phantasmagorical spatiality of Comala in Pedro Páramo (“Empty carts, grinding the silence of the streets. And the shadows. The echo of the shadows.”)

We invite you to follow the disorienting route of the artificial machine with your eyes. As it approaches the monolith, trying to track down the origin of the strange background noise, the image returns a double and unexpected reflection: the viewer confronts the screen – as in Bradbury's story – with his own projected face. From reflection comes revelation. If the human race perished, what would remain from the rubble? Reminder of expiration, of our transience, but also of our survival. memento mori. The landscapes of Mars evoke longing and distance before an unattainable point in outer space. Carlos Vielma documents the marvelous visual chronicle from a barren terrain.

John Paul Ramos

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