the social life of plants
from April 20th to July 21st, 2012
An exhibition devised by Mélanie Bouteloup and Anna Colin,
with the help of Flora Katz
Françoise Vergès and Serge Volper
Tropicomania: the social life of plants proposes to recount the trajectory of a few tropical plants such as the banana, the pineapple and the rubber tree, from their place of origin to our local grocery store. Using anthropologists Arjun Appadurai and Igor Kopytoff’s concepts of “social life” or “cultural biography” of objects, the exhibition sets out to map the socio-economic, cultural and political implications behind the circulation of tropical plants since the end of the 16th century. If the cultivation and consumption of produces from the tropical world have spread to the entire the planet, what are the implications of this expansion?
Starting from the archive of the Historical Library of the Cirad (Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development) located in the former Garden of colonial experimentation in the bois de Vincennes, the project Tropicomania aims to question the role played by the network of gardens of experimentation in globalisation. Bringing together artworks, scientific illustrations, archive documents, literary accounts and films produced in a variety of contexts, Tropicomania addresses the interrelation between science, exoticism and commerce, and the power relations engendered by this very alliance.
With contributions from: Maria Thereza Alves, Édouard Bouët-Willaumez, Pablo Bronstein, Hendrick Danckerts, Mark Dion, Amos Gitaï, Yo-Yo Gonthier, Dominique Juhé-Beaulaton, Germaine Krull, André Lassoudière, Otobong Nkanga, Claire Pentecost, Dan Peterman, Marie Preston, Lois Weinberger.
Associated institutions and partners: Bibliothèque Historique du Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD); École du Breuil; Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale and the City of Paris; musée du quai Branly (Jacques Kerchache room); Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle; Paris Diderot University.
Bétonsalon is an association set up in 2003 under the 1901 Act, and transformed into a centre for art and research center in 2007. Integrated at the very heart of Paris Diderot University in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research has undertaken to develop an area for thought and confrontation at the confluence of art and university research, by giving shape to discourses of an aesthetic, cultural, political, social or economic nature.
Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research enjoys the support of the Ville de Paris, the Département of Paris, the Paris Diderot University, the Ile-de-France Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs under the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Ile-de-France Regional Council, and Leroy Merlin (quai d’Ivry). Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research is a member of the TRAM network, a Paris/Ile-de-France contemporary art network.
Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research is run jointly by Mélanie Bouteloup and Anna Colin.