Laura Huertas Milan is showing the two films she made at Le Fresnoy. These two films highlight the coherence of her quest for a figure from an imaginary and fantasized Elsewhere, also bound up with acts of violence that are committed and often hushed up.

Laura Huertas Millan

Voyage en la terre autrement dite

2011, 23 mn 30,


2012, 20 mn

Productions le Fresnoy, Studio national des arts contemporains

Voyage en la Terre Autrement Dite (Journey to the Land Otherwise Described) and Aequador are both part and parcel of a series begun in 2009 around the notion of “exoticism”. This series currently consists of five films: Sin Dejar Huella (Without Leaving a Trace), 2009, Voyage en la Terre Autrement Dite, 2011, and Aequador, 2012, as well as two films currently being made, Orénoque (Orinoco), shot in Super-8 in the tropical glasshouse of the Tête d’Or park in Lyon, and Evaristo, filmed in Colombian Amazonia. The source of this series lies in a discovery made in Chile of a book of photographs depicting Mapuche natives in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris in the early 20th century. They are on display there, probably as part of a human zoo akin to those which burgeoned during the colonial exhibitions of that period. The poignant memory of these vanished people, forced into exile and exhibited in France, has haunted me for many years, and came back to the surface when I started becoming interested in venues and places, in Paris, representing an Elsewhere that is exotic and tropical. It was actually by looking for décors for a film presenting a script, written by my father, about disappearance (the story he tells in a voice-over un Sin Dejar Huella) that I became interested in the (hi)story of “tropical” gardens in France: the jardin d’acclimatation, the tropical gardens in Paris, for example. These places are intrinsically bound up with the history of colonialism. Some of these gardens were built to accommodate colonial exhibitions, at times presenting natives hailing from Africa, the Americas and Oceania in architectural replicas and enclosed areas. The idea of the tropical garden then developed into the figure of the tropical glasshouse or greenhouse, and by extension the jungle. This is why the title “A Jungle Effect” instantly struck me. It is in fact an issue that has been fascinating me now for several years: a figure of an imaginary and fantasized Elsewhere, but also a residue or a survival, a “disguised” trace of a history of acts of violence. So I would like to suggest highlighting three works where the link is deeply woven, each one of which is the logical outcome of the one before. These three films are Sin Dejar Huella (Without Leaving a Trace), Voyage en la Terre Autrement Dite, and Aequador. The first one has another style in the way it is made, probably more precarious, but in it the challenges of the next two films are traced out: the evocation of a History, very few signs of which remain (signs often shrewdly manipulated or deleted), the fragment of garden which, by its de-contextualization, conjures up or brings forth the archetype of the jungle. It also seems to me that the formal references between the female singer and the camouflaged woman, between the copse become jungle, from where she looms up, and the hunter shown in fragments in the Amazon forest, or lastly the voiceover narrative in Sin Dejar Huella evoking a history where all traces have been erased and the native feast at the end of Aequador (survivors of another time, whose existence is being forever threatened) make sense and exist together. Laura Huertas Millan