Maria Thereza Alves
Mónica de Miranda
In the framework of botanical politics, and considering plants’ circulation routes, the exhibition Markkontroll [Ground Control] seeks to shift our perceptions of what is local and natural, might actually be imported and constructed. It entices us to reconsider our surroundings beyond borders and understand their political entrenchment. The works suggest to explore landscapes as cultural imports, reflecting the continuous fluxes, frictions and permeations that shape our political, economic and natural environments.
The artworks presented subtly anatomise the human crave for categorising, hierarchising and labelling in order to control, assert political domination and decide on which knowledge is valuable or not. Markkontroll [Ground Control] also considers the commodification of plants, both desirable ornamental elements for individuals, urban planners or institutions and profitable resources for corporations.
Historically, political domination over nature may have started with the emergence of botanical gardens – hierarchical and artificial spaces where worldwide plants coincide. Their history is deeply embedded in that of Western imperial conquest in the 17th–18th century, and is also linked to the development of naturalist expeditions – mapping territories subsequently occupied and plundered – and of Carl Linnaeus’ binomial nomenclature in Systema naturæ (between 1735-1770). Controlling flora became strategic as plants were seen as power markers as well as trade opportunities. Plants were transferred from one environment to another and circulated widely – from and between colonies and empires, modifying lastingly, and sometimes unpredictably, biospheres and systems of meaning.
The effects of such circulation and classification have left visible and invisible imprints on landscapes, language, bodies and knowledge as highlighted by the exhibition Markkontroll [Ground Control].