Private Project

The Risk of Living

The Risk of Living is a short documentary-fiction film that recreates choreographies used for landmine clearance. Approaching questions about body-memory and trauma, the film explores the traumatic effects of war artifacts, their footprints, and how it creates precise spatial, bodily, and memory configurations.

  • Andres Harvey
  • Andres Harvey
  • Anna Mansueti
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 26, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Harvard Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies
Director Biography - Andres Harvey

Andres Harvey is an architect, artist, and filmaker (Mexico City & Cambridge, MA). His work departs from an understanding of architecture as an outcome of both political and economic forces, as well as a framework that conditions people according to their environment. This has led him to develop broader notions of the body in relation to space, from a physical, political, and aesthetic dimension through photography and film. Andrés received his Diploma from the Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico City) with additional training at the Architectural Association (London). He worked as a project leader in the studio of Frida Escobedo from 2016-2019. In 2019, he was the recipient of the FONCA Jóvenes Creadores art grant for his photography work on the movement of the human body across urban spaces. In 2020 he founded the design, research, and architecture office “COSA” together with Matthew Kennedy. Currently, he is a Student in the Master in Design Studies ’24 program at Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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Director Statement

By 2009 about 16.3 hectares across Vietnam were still contaminated with landmines and unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War, representing around 15% of the country’s total surface area. After almost fifty years, around 40,000 people have been killed; and 66,000 injured by war munitions mainly in the Quang Tri and Quang Binh providences. For the farming communities and scavenger families (which have been the most affected people) this means not only that they continue to be at risk of dying, even if the war ended years ago; but also that the space of the mine has crafted a landscape where the common use of prosthetics and the awareness of an invisible danger is defined by the risk of living as an amputated body, as a stranger to oneself.

Landmine clearance requires a slow and thorough choreography using a metal detector, chalk powder, and tape to delimit the area that has been cleared. This process is characterized by risk of living even if it's a controlled procedure, and is fatal nonetheless. If steps are done wrongly, one becomes distracted or the metal detector stops working the explosion can be lethal or result in the amputation of a body limb. The film explores the bodily-memory and trauma of this act, the space of the minefield extends the temporality of trauma where there is no safe place. The decontextualization of such choreographies in safe and isolated places and wastelands around Boston uses fiction as a metaphoric tool. The minefield is a metaphor for the fiction of sovereign territory as a safe place. Therefore, the gesture here represents the undoing of sovereignty. The search of the mine is the search of disposing of the borders of oneself. To replicate and reproduce the choreographies of landmine clearance in a “safe place” mean to talk about the risk of living as an everyday life experience, the risk of living as a stranger in oneself and in one's own home.