Lasse Lau | Denmark, Germany | 2017 | 33:00

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).

Kran Film Collective