April 2019, arsenal cinema

Aristocrats of the Primeval Forest


Artist Lothar Baumgarten, who died at the end of 2018, spent 18 months with the Yãnomãmɨ of Kashorawë-theri and Yapitawë-their in 1978/79, two local societies living on the Orinoco in the forests between Venezuela and Brazil. It was here that the six sequences (partly in black and white, partly in color) were created that make up the film SEÑORES NATURALES YÃNO­MÃMƗ, which was shot on an Arri in 16mm. In these sequences, Baumgarten accompanies the everyday life of these half-nomadic groups with participatory distance: on their wanderings through the tropical rainforest, on their collective searches for food, while building a new round village, constructing a boat and travelling down river; and, as a dramatic climax, during the celebration rituals and reunion with other Yãnomãmɨ communities. The footage comes together to form an image of a cosmos lived in a such a way that, today, forty years later, only exists in fragments. Baumgarten’s film is the elegiac testimony to a tropical life and world coming to an end. (mag/mo) (6.4.)