De esos polvos estos barros is a short film by Guadalajara-based artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda that examines the artisanal manufacturing of fired clay bricks in western Mexico. Through an episodic narrative, the film observes an ancient construction process still practiced today and a ubiquitous material singularly significant to built environments worldwide. 

The film captures vivid vignettes of traditional brickmaking from raw earth to finished building material in the town of Magdalena, Jalisco. The artist reflects on this practice by sharing the laborious process of brickmaking in its entirety, while drawing formal connections between the kilns and pre-Hispanic pyramids or ancient ziggurats. Interspersing footage of landscapes and closeups are paired with an atmospheric score that samples music and audio overheard on site. This generates a film that subtly reads as both documentary and lyrical abstraction, altogether exposing the transformation of a common, natural material. 

Fragmented glimpses of the human figure appear often, representing the vitality of labor while calling attention to an age-old craft that is slowly disappearing due to the increasing industrialization of building materials and environmental concerns. As such, De esos polvos estos barros touches on the complicated, deep-rooted, and changing industry of brickmaking, which is an economic source for thousands of families in Mexico.

The film premieres on the nomadic art museum Black Cube’s YouTube channel, and is followed by a pre-recorded interview with the artist led by José Esparza Chong Cuy, Executive Director and Chief Curator of Storefront for Art and Architecture, on Friday, February 26, 2021, at 7pm (MST). This program is free; RSVPs are not required.

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