Barcelona is the epitome of a tourist wet dream: the perfect blend of trendy design, cosmopolitan culture, Mediterranean weather and food. As with any European metropolis, immigrants make an important part of the society's fabric, even if they're mostly invisible to the casual visitor or oblivious resident.
Grey Filastine and Nova Ruth are the electronic duo that record under the name Filastine.Through their latest musical production, they are shining a light on the workers that literally make the world go round. The American producer and the Indonesian singer-hacktivist are based in Barcelona and have been working on a 4-part series of documentary songs called Abandon. In each song/video, released over the past year, the duo are profiling everyday scenes of workers around the world through dance, music and documentary filmmaking: a coal miner in Indonesia, a Portuguese maid, American workers in a calling center. For the fourth and final installment of Abandon, 'Los Chatarreros', which we are premiering here at U-LAB, Filastine take a look at scrap metal collectors in Barcelona.
" Abandon is an experiment in ways to release music, videos, and to tell a story. It’s about how we sell our time on earth, and how we can dare to get free", says Grey Filastine via email. "It is partly about the work itself: invisible, poorly compensated, and even more poorly regarded, and also about the global context that creates this labor force: a world imploding from economic & ecologic injustice. Spain’s chatarreros are uniformly migrants without papers, legal ghosts that survived a gauntlet of deserts, seas, wars, and human traffickers only to come scavenge metals from our trash."
In the video, directed by Grey Filastine himself with an array of collaborators, we see a lonely young immigrant pushing a shopping cart and collecting metal through the streets of the city's Barrio Gotic, just a few feet away from the famed Ramblas boulevard. In this part-documentary, part-dream-like sequence, the scrap metal collector starts playing percussion with the metal scraps and the cart, then breaks into dance and voguing, taking off his hoodie in a defiant act of beauty and self-expression. Then, at dawn, and with the company of fellow metal scrap collectors, they all get lost in choreography, beats and sounds.
Filastine want to make a statement about the dignity, and beauty, present in everyone's life, regardless of their economic or immigration status. Before working full-time as a musician, Grey Filastine himself worked a string of "unglamourous" jobs, experiences which informed his point of view in life today. "My first job was at a fast-food joint in an Oklahoma shopping mall, serving fried chicken to future Trump voters" he says. "I’ve also worked in menial factories, as a janitor cleaning up “residues" in a nude peepshow, and spent ten long years behind the wheel of a Seattle taxicab. After my lifetime of working low-paid and low-valued jobs, Abandon sums up my feelings."
The songs from Abandon will be included on Filastine’s upcoming album Drapetomania , which will be out this April. Watch the other three videos from Abandon here: