Dodo, Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, Installation view, 2014 Image © Moritz Bernoully 


Almost nothing in recorded history happened in San Carlos until May 1968. Back then, the coastline off the Sea of Cortez closely resembled Pianosa, the diminutive Sicilian island where Joseph Heller set his satirical Second World War novel Catch-22. It was therefore the perfect location to film the Hollywood version, and that single event has come to define the town of San Carlos and its surrounding landscape forever.

At the time, this isolated site was only reachable by boat. But after wrapping up production and returning to Los Angeles, the film crew left behind a road, control towers, derelict villas and a fully operational runway large enough to accommodate the largest fleet of B-25 airplanes assembled since 1945. One of these bomber planes was also buried on set. Along with a team of archeologists, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin travelled to San Carlos to exhume the so-called “Mexican plane.” In the intervening years much had changed. The desert had entirely reclaimed the terrain and Broomberg & Chanarin found only fragments; thousands of aluminum shards, rusty nails and rabbit droppings.
The plane’s disappearance recalls that of the dodo, the first species on Earth to be made extinct as a result of human activity. Four centuries after its last sighting, not a single intact skeleton or trustworthy image remains. Only one egg survives.

Part archival research, archeological excavation and montage, Dodo started out with the discovery of previously unseen offcuts from Catch-22 in the vaults of Paramount Pictures. These images portray the coastline and wildlife of the Sea of Cortez as it stood on the brink between isolation and urban development. Broomberg & Chanarin have re-edited this material; transforming images produced for a fiction film set in World War II Italy into a nature documentary—evidence of a pristine landscape that no longer exists.

Exhibition curated by Javier Rivero. Special thanks to Paramount Pictures, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas (UNAM), Grupo Caballero, and Colección Uribe.

DODO will be shown as part of British Art Show 8, at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art from 13. February - 8. May 2016