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©2017 by Lasse Lau

Stem - Sound from the Tropical

2017, HD, Color, English, 33’

 

”… Wildness challenges the unity of the symbol, the transcendent totalization binding the image to that which it represents. Wildness pries open this unity and in its place creates slippage. ... Wildness is the death space of signification” (219).

 

- Taussig: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (1987)

 

 

In the middle of Lisbon between Avenue Liberdade and the Natural History Museum lays a little gem of a garden, The Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Lisboa. It was inaugurated in 1873. The garden’s crown jewel is its subtropical collections which has a unique microclimate that enables unique tropical plants to survive.

 

The Arboretum located on a slope with a water path and undulating waterfalls leading to three small lakes, which add to the humidity and tropical mist of the garden, creating a beautiful romantic garden. A layout you usually don’t see that much off in scientific gardens, which lean to have more stricter divisions and vistas between species. Even the Class section of the garden is overgrown and bushy, and seem alien to the systematic of the books of classification and methods developed by Carl Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae (1735), and later Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859)

 

Being a partly romantic garden offers privacy in public it’s not a coincidence that Thomas Mann found inspiration in this garden in his 1954 novel Felix Krull. Felix finds love while passing Lisbon on his world journey. Since Thomas Mann wrote his novel, the park has grown wilder after 40 years with extended lack of resources. A situation that many Botanical Gardens find themselves in today, points towards a paradigm shift in scientific discourses. In the 1920s the garden had 36 gardeners whereas today there is supposedly only 1 left. There have been summers in recent years where the garden made it into the newspaper by not paying its water bills or watering the plants sufficiently. 

 

STEM (Sound from the Tropical) is a film about the migration of plants and botanical gardens in decay. Years of neglects of the Lisbon University Garden have created a romantic environment where the garden is growing wild. The film investigates the displacement in migration and morphology of plants. And investigates some of the post-colonial environmental ramifications of transfer into new subjectivities of the"other."

 

The film came together as is a collaboration between the filmmaker and the German sound artist Max Schneider. Together they traveled Brazil to sound record 17 unique plants. The film features an interview with professor James Clifford, author of "The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art" (1988), "Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late 20th Century" (1997), and Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty First Century" (2013). 

Stills​
Credits and Screenings

Screenings

- Antimatter, Victoria, BC, Canada 2018

- Great Lakes International Film Festival, Erie, PA USA 2018

- Fogo Island Arts, NL, Canada 2018

- Montevideo Festival, Uruguay 2018

- Les Rencontres Internationales, Berlin, Germany 2018

- Parcours d’Artistes Itinérant, Brussels, Belgium 2018

- Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris, France 2018

 

Solo Exhibitions

- San Diego Arts Institute, SDAI Media Space, San Diego 2015 (early rough cut version) 

a film by

LASSE LAU

 

sound 

MAX SCHNEIDER

with comments by

JAMES CLIFFORD ​
 

guide 

DEUZIMAR CRUZ LOPES

 

cinematographer 

VALENTINA SUMMA

LASSE LAU

 

focus puller

SAMUEL AMARAL

 

key grip

PEDRO SANTOS

 

research assistant

LARA MORAIS

 

location assistant

KAMILA METWALY

 

security 

JORGE MANUEL COURELA CHAVES

 

edit

LASSE LAU

MAX SCHNEIDER

 

color

ANDREAS BIRCH

JOHS MØGELVANG

 

thanks to 

LORELAI KURY

LUISA SANTOS

JÜRGEN BOCK, MAUMAUS

LARRY COHEN

MICHAEL TRAP

MIGUEL BRITO, EAST BANC

FLO MAAK

TUE WALLIN STORM

BO SEBASTIAN PETERSEN

ULLA RØRDAM

DALIA SULEIMAN

NATALIA MOUNT 

GINGER SHULICK PORCELLA

 

Jardim Botanico Da Universidade De Lisboa

DIRECTOR JOSÉ PEDRO SOUSA DIAS

MARIA TERESA ANTUNES

DR. IRENEIA MELO

DAVID FELISMINO

 

Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

ALDA LUCIA HEIZER

 

Jardim Botânico de Curitiba

DIRECTOR OSMAR DOS SANTOS RIBAS

JOEL MORAIS DA SILVA

 

Brasilia

MARCELLO CLACINO, GUIDE

JOSÉ AUGUSTO DRUMMOND

RAFAEL TEIXEIRA, BIOLOGIST

 

Amazonas

DEUZIMAR CRUZ LOPES 

RODRIGO NASCIMENTO SIQUEIRA

MANITI LODGE

 

Boat Mistral II crew

JUAN RICARDO BATISTA TRAVASSOS

ANTONIO CARLOS DA SILVA JUSKI

 

Parque Nacional de Saint-Hilaire/Lange

FABIO CORREA

RODRIGO FILIPAK TORRES

 

Rio

MARLON COSTA DE ALMEIDA

MARCELO CORDEIRO

 

filmed on location

JARDIM BOT NICO DA UNIVERSIDADE DE LISBOA

AMAZONAS

 

produced by 

KRAN FILM COLLECTIVE

 

supported by

DANISH ARTS COUNCIL

DANISH DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION