Universes in Universe

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Alberto Baraya, Abel Rodríguez

Left and center:
Alberto Baraya:
Árbol histórico (Historical tree) and Rama B (Branch B) from Proyecto del árbol de caucho (Rubber tree project). 2005
and a selections from Herbario de plantas artificiales (Herbarium of artificial plants), 2014
Abel Rodríguez,
Fish trap. 2013
Exhibition view of Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture.

Hanging on opposite walls are two groups of "botanical plates." Alberto Baraya gathers artificial flowers and plants from all over the world and then classifies them in the manner of a botanist. His most recent collecting "expedition" was conducted in New York. Abel Rodriguez, a member of the Nonuya people of the Caquetá River region, produced meticulously detailed drawings in collaboration with Tropenbos International, a Dutch NGO concerned with the preservation of tropical ecosystems worldwide. His series depicts the monthly cycle of the flooded rainforest, and the large drawing features a tree—a symbol of the origin of life for many Amazonian peoples.

The two works in the center suggest contrasting interpretations of nature. Rodríguez’s "fish trap,"captures the beauty of natural materials and evokes the functional logic of a traditional form. Baraya’s shroud-like latex cast of a tree historically tapped for rubber, made in the Amazon with the aid of former rubber tappers, conveys how the relentless search for natural resources has ravaged the country’s landscape. The tree’s scars impressed upon the latex cast recall a textile design and also suggest the scars left on Colombia’s social fabric after decades of exploitation during the rubber booms of the late-nineteenth century and the World War II era.

© Photo: Bruce White
Courtesy of Bard Graduate Center Gallery


The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture. Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, 24 June - 27 Sept. 2015. Curator: José Roca, with Alejandro Martín.

The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture. Bard Graduate Center Gallery, New York, 11 April - 10 August 2014. Curator: José Roca, with Alejandro Martín. Alberto Baraya and Abel Rodríguez.

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