Moving image project by Sabine Groenewegen
Production: near/by film
If I wasn’t thinking about the past, the past was thinking about me.
Tupi-speaking Amazonians called the tree that, when damaged, produces a milky liquid "cahuchu", meaning "weeping wood". In solid form this liquid enbled the removal of pencil writing by a rubbing motion, from which it got the name "rubber". The seeds of this tree were smuggled to South East Asia, where ancient communication networks in the forest were destroyed to make way for plantations. This created silences that would linger for generations. Filmmakers came along and revealed themselves through the images they produced. A fictional female character was invented and then removed from the story, leaving only a nitrate film print as material witness behind.
Just under a century later, a filmmaker discovers the unexplained removal of scenes from a 1930's Dutch film set on a colonial rubber plantation in Sumatra. Her investigation into the removal of a specific female character from the only surviving distribution print of the film leads to larger questions about historical silences regarding women and profit models within the system of rubber production in the early 20th century. Material from various archives come together in a speculative fiction in which trees and other witnesses open up a trail through time. An outline emerges of the intergenerational consequences of rubber production in the Dutch East Indies, and with it a reflection on power, extraction, our relationship to silenced ancestors and how we can listen to a hushed up shared history.