2017, Manaus, Berlin. Video, color, audio, 24’23”, Full HD format.

Barbara Marcel’s essay film THE OPEN FOREST is a composition of found and produced images from the Amazon Forest – a landscape of imperialist and developmentalist imaginations. By conceiving landscape as a cultural medium that not only symbolizes power relations but is also an instrument and agent of power itself, the video reflects on stories of accessing, framing and consuming the forest, as well as its complex entanglements involving human technologies and “natural” resources.

The film was made after an artist residency in the Adolpho Ducke Reserve of the National Research Institute of Amazonia (INPA), one of the most important spaces for scientific research in the Brazilian Amazon. Narrated with her own voice, Marcel’s encounters in the forest echo the attempt to demystify a colonized imaginary and its haunting consequences. By mobilizing local and global knowledge, the work decodes expectations, shifting scales in search of erased legacies. Beneath its essayistic form, the video traces a trajectory from the Sahara to the Amazon; from greenhouse effects and their architectures to the origins of European biological expansion in the tropics of the "New World; and, from the rubber trade navigation lines to the shaky brega pop music in the streets of Manaus, a tax haven close to the forest built during the Brazilian dictatorship. In a processual assemblage made by of multiple perspectives, it's investigated how and with whom we can enter, see and know the Amazon forest, its interconnected beings and its histories of resistance.

© 2021 Barbara Marcel