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Anna Lucas, Uña De Gato, 2007. Installation view at FACT.

Uña de Gato (2007)

Lucas' expedition to find the Uña de Gato plant takes us by boat into the Amazon rainforest, and between the regions of Lima, Pucallpa and Satipo in Peru. Otherwise known as Cats Claw, the plant is named after the curly thorns it uses to hang from its host. Its natural properties are believed to boost the immune system and current research is investigating the herb's ability to treat illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

The film captures a travelling salesman selling handfuls of Uña de Gato sweets on the buses of Lima, and brings us to the dense Amazon jungle where we are guided to the plant by a local Ashaninka shaman and his teenage daughter. Everyday scenes, such as the preparation of the plant for transport to the Lima-based factories where it is transformed into herbal medicines and confectionary, are also documented. But Lucas' gaze also records the image of a devastating illegal wood trade in progress, as a family living in silver dome tents aboard a raft of hardwood logs floats downstream.