Kaff Mariam and Uña de Gato explore the complex themes surrounding these two medicinal plants, first encountered by Lucas in her local markets in Brixton, south London. The films could be seen as a pilgrimage or quest, tracing the plants to their origins in the deserts of the Middle East and the Peruvian rainforest.
Kaff Mariam begins in Jericho and moves through Palestine to Sinai, with each encounter leading on to the next. As the journey progresses, the people and the landscapes they inhabit become as significant as the plant itself.
Uña de Gato follows this plant, associated with its anti-inflammatory properties and cure for cancer, from the dense Amazonian forest through harvesting and manufacturing processes to where it is sold as sweets on the buses of Lima.
Throughout these films, beautiful, ancient landscapes are punctuated with subtle observations that reveal the political, scientific and spiritual subcultures that have evolved around these plants. Anna Lucas creates contemplative, poignant work, challenging the traditional documentary format and asking the viewer to make their own minds up about what they see without relying on an explanatory voiceover.
Anna Lucas is one of the leading exponents of contemporary film and video art. Based in London, she has exhibited widely, with exhibitions at Whitstable Biennale (2010), FACT, Liverpool (2007), Bud, Spike Island, Bristol and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne (2003). Adrift, first commissioned by Picture This and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2004), is showing at Creative Hinkley Gallery from November 2011. She is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at De Montfort University, Leicester. Anna Lucas’ work is distributed by LUX.
Kaff Mariam and Uña de Gato were funded by FACT and Film London. They were developed following research made in Brixton markets, London, as part of Wildcraft, commissioned by South London Gallery 2006.
Funded by Arts Council England with the support of Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network.