By Monica Delgado

A quote by William Burroughs is the prelude – or door – to the journey that the Mexican filmmaker and researcher Martín Molina Gola proposes in Yagé (2021), from a tense black and white, product of a negative treatment of digital video. The beatnik brand as a reflection for entering an Amazonian universe, perhaps a cliché option, or perhaps a tie with a poetic or worldview around the processes produced by yagué or ayahuasca. Burroughs thought (“You cannot show anyone what he has not seen”) as an apothegm of an experiential relationship, between a mother plant and the subjects in an incursion into a sensory world, but also as a decentered point of reference and from an outside, in an environment freed from healers or shamans. A land warned by the voice of the poet and from that rationality.

From this visual-but also sound staging (by the French artist Méryll Ampe)- that translates an approach marked by this experience of ayahuasca consumption, the filmmaker Molina Gola proposes an insight from the tension between black and white, and that more than a hallucinatory journey, it is about the elaboration of a mental cartography, of a geography of territories that function as real matter of altered states. Thus, yagé (so called in Colombia and Ecuador) as a concoction resulting from the combination of the ayahuasca and chacruna plants, becomes the inducer, the medium, and what the filmmaker processes becomes, in the end, a reverse test of the William Burroughs quote, ‘by showing what has been seen’.

Presented at the 68th edition of the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and as part of the Distributors’ Screening Light Cone section, Yagé has nocturnal territories (to the extent that we are immersed in a world turned upside down, due to the use of the device in negative ) to scenes with leafy trees and plants, rivers and paths, from a gaze that runs through them from various camera movements. But, all this is also defined by a treatment of the image based on error, on the subtle deformation of landscapes, from the aesthetic impoverishment of its clarity or texture. Thus, Yagé can be seen as yet another expression on the hallucinatory world, where the subject that promotes the observation travels, goes from one place to another in a dreamlike way (from the Peruvian Amazon to Lake Titicaca in Puno, from the dense forest to the desert or steppe , from sheltered heat, from aestheticizing digital to poor image). However, it is possible to read the mechanics of the forms used as an expression of this transit in half sleep, from this plane more aware of the possibilities of digital as an entity that materializes these hallucinatory states of dilated and lucid observation.

Light Cone Program
Director: Martin Molina Gola
Music: Meryll Ampe
France, Mexico, Peru
2021, 13:56 min