Flora Fantastic: Eco-Critical Contemporary Botanical Art

Curated by Corina Apostol, Tashima Thomas

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The nature of plants can be two-sided, as the line between poison and panacea is often thin. The knowledge of what heals and what is a hazard can be traced back to pre colonial times. These insights have been erased on a large scale by coloniality.

This exhibition brings together artists from post-colonial contexts who are looking critically at the colonial past and deconstructing history through the lens of the botanical. Kristaps Ancāns looks at the artificiality of domestic interiors decorated with indigenous plants removed from their native contexts, creating a sense of control over nature. Joiri Minaya addresses colonial encounters in the Americas, gesturing towards nature?s reclamation of her lands. Scherezade Garcia reveals interconnectedness between the natural environment and commercial enterprises. Virginia Wagner unearths how botanical knowledge is historically translated. Tamika Galanis investigates how botanicals became agents of health and resistance. A collaborative botanical timeline positions plants as protagonists in colonial history, capable of draining life out of the body or restoring well-being.

During a time when we have found ways to classify and clone plants we have discovered in the world, we have also systematically erased them from native contexts. Flora Fantastic begins a conversation about embodiment, inhabitation, belonging and dwelling.
  • artists:
    Kristaps Ancāns
    Tamika Galanis
    Scherezade García
    Joiri Minaya
    Virginia Wagner
    and artistic collaborators Anna Malicka and Agate Tūna
Corina L. Apostol is a curator at the Tallinn Art Hall and the co-curator of Beyond Matter – Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality. She has been appointed as the curator of the Estonian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022). She is the editor of Making Another World Possible (Routledge, 2019).

Tashima Thomas is an art historian, gastronome, and cultural critic specializing in the art of the African Diaspora in the Americas. Her research examines food pathways, visual and material culture, racial formation, and the environmental humanities. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, exhibition catalogues, and edited volumes.

Installation Images

apexart’s program supporters past and present include the National Endowment for the Arts, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, The Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Spencer Brownstone, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, Epstein Teicher Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, The Puffin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and administered by LMCC, funds from NYSCA Electronic Media/Film in Partnership with Wave Farm: Media Arts Assistance Fund, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.