Salarium

  • Sasha Litvintseva
  • Daniel Mann
  • 2017
    • United Kingdom
  • 42 min
  • Colour
  • Production
  • Sasha Litvintseva, Daniel Mann

Just like sinkholes – these gaping holes that, since the 1980s, have damaged the roads and tourist sites along the shores of the Dead Sea (which bathes Israel but also Jordan and the occupied West Bank) at breathtaking speed – Salarium causes a collapse in the viewers’ perception: it obliterates their conception of this territory as being essentially empty, a space offered to tourists for its salty uniqueness. Drawing on the shared etymology of the words “salary” and “soldier”, the filmmakers re-inject a strand of history and politics into this space now given up to leisure (three soldiers enjoy their ice cream on the beach, a group of fifty-somethings living on the edge of the Judean Desert unpack their soda cans, deckchairs and transistors). The focus on a geological phenomenon that is exacerbated by human activity changes our view of a “natural treasure”. Can the restorative mud with which bathers daub themselves be reduced to such cosmetic use? And what about the quad bikes that criss-cross the desert? When exactly does exploitation of this place tip into environmental destruction? And how come the cataclysmic words of a hippy prophet echoe Chapter 8 of the Book of Daniel? “By making the Earth uninhabitable for the future, the sinkholes appear as both the symptom and active cause of the failure of this colonialist project to instrumentalise nature.” (Sasha Litvinseva and Daniel Mann) (Charlotte Garson)