The colonial garden. Deconstructing the narratives of modern taxonomy

Naming nature and taxonomizing it effectively was a priority for the emerging modern science emanating from the Age of Enlightenment. In its global epistemological conception, plant species from colonial explorations were catalogued in honour of white men of Western culture. At the same time, the cultivation of many of these plants was introduced into the streets and gardens of European cities, while the first botanical institutions were created.

Within the Ficcions del des-ordre program, and as part of his reserach Naming, possessing Critique of taxonomic practice, awarded a grant by Barcelona Producción 2019-2020 from La Capella, artist-in-residence Agustín Ortiz Herrera presents a series of work sessions where queer/cuir strategies will be exercised, with the intention of questioning the narratives agreed upon by the modern scientific construct, introducing a decolonial narrative, and thus unveiling the secrets of plant species such as Sparrmannia, Washingtonia or Tulbaghia. The proposal will conclude with a small tribute to Derek Jarman and his memoir Modern Nature (1991). While writing it, Jarman worked on one of his most beloved projects: the Prospect Cottage garden in southern England. In this last session, texts from this work will be read, a tribute to the author who wrote: “the limit of my garden is the horizon”; an evocation of a chimerical place understood as a queer/quir desire of nature to come.

Session 1. Urban route through the streets of Poblenou

Agustín Ortiz Herrera invites us to participate in a route through the streets surrounding Can Ricart (Poblenou) to talk about the taxonomy of the plants in the area and their colonial origin, with the aim of revealing some forgotten chapters of the development of botanical knowledge in the modern project, while experimenting with queer/cuir confrontation strategies.

The route will be developed on foot. It will begin and end in Hangar.

Date: 23 October 20200
Schedule: 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Places: 20
Registration: lacapella(at)

Session 2. Guided visit to the Botanical Garden of Barcelona

In this second drift, some historical moments will be investigated by means of a methodology of situated knowledge in which the extensions of the strategy of the cabinet of curiosities to the Botanical Garden will be evidenced.

Date: 24 October 2020
Schedule: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Places: 20
Registration: lacapella(at)

Session 3. Modern Nature: A Tribute to Derek Jarman (Postponed activity. New date and format to be announced)

Playful and collective reading of the book Modern Nature by Derek Jarman. In addition, there will be a dialogue about his film The Garden (1990) and his garden project at Prospect Cottage, in the south of England.

Date: 5 November 2020
Place: Hangar (Sala Ricson)
Schedule: from 6 – 8 p.m.
Places: 40
Registration: here

This session is supported by Caja Negra Editora.


Agustín Ortiz Herrera (Barcelona, 1970) studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona (1998), and filmmaking at The New School University, New York (2003). After a period working as a screenwriter, he returned to artistic practice by completing the Master of Fine Arts at Konstfack College of Arts, Stockholm (2016). His recent exhibitions include “Oblivion” at KROPP, Uppsala Konsert & Kongress (2019), “Konst tar plats” at Österbybruk, Sweden (2018), “Potenciación a largo plazo” at “El umbral de primavera”, Madrid (2018) . He received the Barcelona Producció La Capella Grant (19/20) in the artistic research category and the Nils Johan Sjöstedts Award in Stockholm (2016).


These sessions are a co-production with Barcelona Producció 2019-2020 of La Capella.

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