A vaquiña polo que vale
Untranslatable galician common saying
In a mock taxonomy attributed to Borges according to which animals can be classified in three groups: Those we watch the tv with, those we eat and those we are scared of. Underneath the humor there is a disturbing revelation hidden in our interaction with animals, and also, about the own nature of our societies. The arrangement of affection – merchandise – fear, organise our bond with those “others”, the animals, and in a way, our own positions when facing any kind of “other” we can imagine.
“A vaquiña polo que vale” deals with that relation between humankind and animals from a point of view that tries to get rid of that deterministic and contradictory triad. Our point of view is that of a spectator which stops and looks at some cows in a field in the country. A bystander exchanging looks with the animal finding in then an old friend, someone who has something to say about himself. Something maybe not nice that we do not want to hear.
[The place,the district of Morgadáns in Gondomar (province of Pontevedra). The time,sometime in October 2016, when summer refuses to fade into fall. Images in black and white leave us oblivious to seasons and time, nature around us is suspended in time: it could be autumn or another season.]
Rosi Braidotti in her book The Posthuman, writing about the relationship between humankind and animals, writes: “Since antiquity, animals have constituted a sort of zoo-proletariat, in a species hierarchy run by the humans. They have been exploited for hard labour, as natural slaves and logistical supports for humans prior to and throughout the mechanical age. They constitute , moreover, an industrial resource in themselves, animal bodies being primary material products starting from milk and their edible meat, but think also of the tusks of elephants, the hides of most creatures, the wool of sheep, the oil and fat of whales, the silk of caterpillars…” (The Posthuman, p. 88 spanish edition)
In “A vaquiña polo que vale” we see a moment in the life of those zoo-proletariat – absorbed in a transitoriness which is almost alien to us. Indifferent to the mechanical look of the camera in the mobile phone. Inserting a simple textual device which works like an ironic counterpoint and a reminder of a plausible future that awaits our heroines, the film poses uncomfortable questions about our relation with animals. Cows do not scare us, they do not watch television with us either, so, according to Borges, their fate is sealed. When we look at them in their normal activities, living in freedom, we cannot help to feel something beyond sorrow. We can perceive plainly how the duality human-animal, which has been instilled in us since time immemorial times, place humans on an superior ontological level above animals, therefore establishing man as a creator to whom everything is owed resulting in the consequences we already know: industrial slaughter of millions of animals, exploitation of any living organisms for an economic profit and the deliberate and systematic destruction of all ecosystems in our planet.
[Animals treated like goods, objectificated and under a capitalist regime of ownership and exploitation. Animals without their innate dignity taken into factories where they go as living non-human beings and leave like packaged goods ready for consumption. A bit like a metaphor of ourselves, right here, right now.]
The film try to do its bit in the process of questioning that ontological difference between humans and animals, redefining their common spaces in a continuum with humans in one end and animals in the opposite. When that difference could be replaced and redefined, we will be ready to look at animals like the other parts of ourselves, those strangers with whom we share a common biological and material basis, and separated by a rift that should not be used as an excuse to keep that hierarchical structure in which we live in and resulting in their objectification.
In this short film, treating images as equal partners, we find in a close-up the sounds surrounding the daily life of our heroines. Every sound in the film works as a frame: That frame places the images, sets well defined physical and psychological limits, wraps what is being filmed and refers to what we are watching in no ambiguous way. These sounds immerse us in the scene working at the same time on an emotional and logical level. Not working only like an atmospherical glow but, together with the questions raised by the images and posing new ones.
In the end it is not about watching television with animals. Some of them, clearly, must be feared. But all of those we eat in a frivolous, cruel and irresponsible way just like packaged goods, deserve a different fate and new respect that, we think are showed in these images, and also acknowledgement of their dignity which we hope these images and sounds reflect.