Linnaeus in Tenebris
May 18th – Sep 24th, 2017
For his first solo show in France, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (born in Guatemala City, lives and works in Berlin) taps into science fiction and biotechnology to address a recurrent subject in his sculptures and performances, namely, the suffering of the land and of the people who farm it.
Linnæus in Tenebris, a site-specific installation and performance* in the Nave of CAPC, is set in in the historic context of the eighteenth century, an era that still dominates Bordeaux’s architectural landscape. The work focuses on an emblematic figure of rationalism, Carl von Linné (1707–1778), the Swedish botanist who created the nomenclature for the classification of most living species known in his time. More broadly, Ramírez-Figueroa examines the taxonomical practices that were developed during the scientific (notably botanical) expeditions undertaken in the wake of western colonization at the time of the Enlightenment. By linking their inherent conceptual bias to the logic of ethnic hierarchization underpinning the division of labor and the spread of industrialization – specifically in the realm of agriculture in Central America, and Guatemala in particular, under the impulse of multinational companies employing migrant labourers – he underlines their alienating potential.
At CAPC, the artist thrusts visitors into the cold and bleak atmosphere of a breeding farm where strange hybrid creatures are grown on an industrial scale. The half-human, half-plant-like sculptures populating the Nave – bunches of bananas with protruding arms and legs, a cocoa-tree-hangman, Monstera deliciosa or other species of suspiciously lush plants, an androgynous-yucca-plant and a plant-pod-midget – are simultaneously fascinating and puzzling. Made of polystyrene covered in resin, they affirm their artificiality and question the moral foundations of “enlightened” culture by exposing the crimes committed in the shadow of Linnaeus.
Curator: Alice Motard