An exhibition curated by Mélanie Bouteloup and Anna Colin, assisted by Flora Katz
Scientific curators: Françoise Vergès and Serge Volper
20 April– 21 July 2012
Opening: Friday 20 April 2012, 6pm-9pm
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? Within the four commonly accepted stages used to represent the path of economic plants (i.e. domestication, exchanges, modes of production and regulation), what are the differences and singularities experienced by each of these? At what point does a plant enter a commercial circuit or acquire a symbolic dimension?
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.
Colonial garden, 1910s - expedition of plantation in “Wardian cases”, intended for the gardens of experimentation of Bingerville (Ivory Coast), Sor (Senegal), Papetee (Tahiti). © Historical library of the Cirad
With: Hendrick Danckerts, Édouard Bouët-Willaumez, Germaine Krull, André Lassoudière, Lois Weinberger, Amos Gitaï, Claire Pentecost, Dan Peterman, Dominique Juhé-Beaulaton, Mark Dion, Maria Thereza Alves, Otobong Nkanga, Yo-Yo Gonthier, Pablo Bronstein, Marie Preston.
Associated institutions and partners: La Triennale ; Bibliothèque Historique du Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (Cirad) ; Ecole du Breuil ; Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale et la Ville de Paris ; musée du quai Branly (salon Jacques Kerchache) ; Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle ; Université Paris Diderot.
Bétonsalon is one of the « Associate venues » of the Triennale, an event organised on the initiative of the ministry of Culture and Communication/DGCA, the Centre national des arts plastiques and the Palais de Tokyo.