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2010 12 11 Letter On The Blind For The Use Of Those Who See

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Javier Téllez's film recreates the Indian parable where six blind people encounter an elephant and provide six different stories about what they perceive. In the film, we see and hear what these six modern-day participants understand, both in the actual meeting and afterward, recounting what happened. In this contemporary version, the elephant is likened to things like "a vulture's wing without feathers; a plastic wall; curtains from a mansion." I saw it here at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art a year or so ago. It's an open meditation, without any prescriptives or sentimentality, shot in a now-retired swimming pool in Brooklyn.

This Globe review helped me remember the specifics. One person approached the unknown bravely, "whispering tender, awestruck things like 'You're beautiful,' 'It's like the ocean in here,' and 'I hear you.'" Another feared the phenomenon would "do some wild things, walk over me or something crazy like that." More about Téllez's work in a Frieze review and short essay here.