Through photography, video, performance, objects trouvès, and drawings, Alberto Baraya, who was born in Bogotà, Colombia in 1968, studies the colonial exploitation of certain cultures and gives an ironic account of its echoes in contemporary globalised culture. Since 2001, the artist has called himself a viajero, clearly referencing the European travellers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who performed botanical experiments in the name of scientific progress, but actually always served the colonisers in power. In recent years, Alberto Baraya’s creative work has focused on the production of his Herbarium of Artificial Plants, an ongoing research project that revisits the journeys made to the Americas by the European royal societies at the turn of the nineteenth century.
New Herbs from Palermo and Surroundings. A Sicilian Expedition, 2018
This herbarium of artificial plants recreates a symbolic collection of flora from Sicily and Palermo. The herbs were gathered during explorations which the artist led in Sicily, with particular attention to the flower offerings left over time on the votive shrines found in urban areas: tributes connected to religious and at times secular devotion made by visitors and communities of different beliefs. The Maria Carolina greenhouse thus becomes a symbolic place where cultures and flowers meet. This display of artificial plants reveals the everyday acts connected to the island’s cultural and religious traditions.