End of the Season
At the end of the season, a group of matsutake mushroom hunters search for rare subterranean treasures in the high desert of Oregon’s Cascade mountain range.
When Jason Evans arrives in Oregon to film the mushroom harvest, he finds only a few workers there: the season has almost finished. But he extracts a wealth of material out of this languishing atmosphere. The small number of pickers are relegated to the background. The gaze is decentred, treating man, tree trunk and fire extinguisher on equal footing. While our species marks out its territory more visibly, the surrounding nature can nowadays hardly be seen as an indifferent setting. One can feel that it silently pursues its work, oblivious to our own. In the carefully composed static shots, filmed in black and white, the filmmaker adopts the position of an outside observer, sitting on neither side of the fence. He looks at objects abandoned by humans with the curiosity of a ferreting animal, be it a plastic hanger or a gutted cabin. The mushroom harvesting itself is barely visible, as what interests the filmmaker is less the nature of the work than the ecosystem it belongs to. Rather than watching the pickers at work, we follow them into their tent when it is time for them to cook up a meal. The faces we see and the music we hear suggest far-off homelands. Americans are probably not the most apt to keep alive the historical ideal of a self-sufficient existence based on the respectful harvesting of the fruits of nature. Here, far from the cities and almost outside time, we see the persistence of an age-old lifestyle that makes use of anything there is at hand.
Jason Evans (b. 1978, Melbourne, Australia) is an Australian-born, New York-based filmmaker and curator. For the past 12 years he has run an online art project, This Long Century, a collection of personal reflections by artists, filmmakers, photographers, writers, and poets the world over.