21 May 2007

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) presents three major new film commissions from London-based artist Anna Lucas in an exhibition entitled Here and Your Here from 30 June until 19 August 2007. Lucas travels from the community on her doorstep in Brixton, to the Middle East and Peru in search of two exotic and rare plants growing wild in their natural habitat. Both plants, Kaff Mariam and Uña de Gato, can be used for medicinal and nutritional purposes, but their whereabouts and the folklore surrounding them is shrouded in myth. Even the plants themselves seem intent on cancelling the other out - one is believed to encourage fertility, the other as a contraceptive.

Amidst a backdrop of political uncertainty and environmental concern, Lucas explores the complex network of belief, superstition and spiritualism that surrounds each plant leading her to challenge her own understanding of territory and that of the people she meets along the way. Lucas' journey begins with with Atlantic Botanic, a two-screen installation juxtaposing Brixton Market with the regimented interior of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI). The market's reputation for selling foodstuffs and ingredients from all over the globe gives its traders an unschooled knowledge of plants and their uses, contrasting with the SLBI's academic approach to botany. What at first seems like a collision of two very different conventions becomes, through the course of the film, an intimate insight into two similarly dying cultures, as mainstream urbanity extends its domination.

Kaff Mariam and Uña de Gato depict Lucas' expeditions to the Middle East and Peru. With the help of the indigenous populations, she must overcome language barriers, difficult terrain, attitudes to her sex and most importantly separate the truth from the legend to find the plants.