spacetime coordinates: 19th-century England, Yorkshire > the Amazon and its tributaries > the Andes of Peru and Ecuador
” Pushing against its scientific reputation as downright boring, moss in particular served to create some botanical, aesthetic sense of a setting that allowed for illicit sexual encounters and for primal yearnings. The reasons for this strange dual identity of bryophytes as both mundane and as primal are relatively clear: realistically, moss provided a soft bed for sexual romps that had to take place outside of stuffy Victorian homes. Serving, perhaps predictably, as a slang term for pubic hair, moss was understood to be consistently moist and jewel-like, glittering like emerald colonies under light. (…) Although tropes of sexual encounters occurring in gardens and forests far predated the nineteenth century, both realistically and literarily, these hidden moss grottoes conjured up an image of something semi-religious, some secret refuge from the trials of urban — and overwhelming imperial tropical — life.”
spacetime coordinate: 1980s China
Les filles du botaniste (Chinese: 植物园, Botanic Garden) is a dramatic and delicate story of two star-crossed lovers set against the fantastic lush of Chinese gardens.
based on a true story
The story starts when Min, a botanist who spent her childhood as an orphan, comes to intern at the botanical gardens under her new instructor, Chen. It is there that she meets An, Chen’s daughter, and finds herself falling in love in a time and place where same-sex relationships are an unforgivable crime.
Since it delves into a topic considered taboo in China, the government refused to allow for the film to be shot or even shown in the country (it was ultimately filmed in Vietnam)
Dai Sijie (director) “I felt that the deep love that brought these two young women together was extremely romantic. In my mind, these women weren’t so much ‘lesbian’ – since they didn’t really possess a recognition of knowledge of themselves as such – but rather they just were determined to love each other dearly. That unwavering surety of pure love just tears at the heart. Also, what really got to me was the fact that these were women denied their freedom. They were justified in their love and there should be no reason why they shouldn’t be able to continue in it–so one has to wonder, why do they not have that right? Since I have experienced losing the right to my own expression, I know what it feels like to not be able to be who you are in your own country. I felt close to both of them, because to me it seemed like we were all outsiders.”
The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters Interview with Dai Sijie in Tokyo Wrestling