Seeds of Change: A Botany of Colonization
Maria Thereza Alves’ project Seeds of Change is a fascinating and deliberate statement on the history of colonization being deeply embedded in the landscape of major cities around the world, including New York. For centuries, ships have used whatever is financially convenient as ballast to stabilize ships. Often, this meant …
Maria Thereza Alves’ project Seeds of Change is a fascinating and deliberate statement on the history of colonization being deeply embedded in the landscape of major cities around the world, including New York.
For centuries, ships have used whatever is financially convenient as ballast to stabilize ships. Often, this meant digging up land from one place and unloading it once a destination was reached. If there were seeds or plants growing in the ballast, which there often were, it would be unloaded as well. Repeat this process hundreds and hundreds of times and this simple act of convenience becomes a major factor in changing the physical and botanical landscapes of important ports around the world.
This significant but often overlooked trend, in conjunction with the migration of people through the slave trade, has been the subject of Seeds of Change since 2002, when the project launched. The video below is about her installation in Bristol.
“ The work revolves around migration, identity, and colonialism, posing the complex question of when exactly seeds – and by extension, people – become “native.”
-The Highline Art
The Garden of Ballast Flora: High Line will be one of three gardens that compose Seeds of Change: New York. A Botany of Colonization by Maria Thereza Alves will, in turn, be a part of Agora. Agora is a group exhibition opening on April 19th at the Highline. The name is drawn from the agoras, or public gathering places along the lines of city squares, of ancient Greece. Agora will look to act as, “a kind of collective voice of the people,” bringing together the works of nine artists from all over the world. It is intended to harness the power of art in very public places to provoke social and political change.
“For centuries, artists have used public locations—and the public in general—as the heart of for their work. By transforming public places into theaters and arenas for performances and collective actions, artists mobilize a kind of collective voice of the people.”
– The Highline Art
Other installations will deal with issues including gender identity, immigration, the relation between indigenous institutions and museums, and many other fascinating issues in a variety of mediums.
An iteration of Seeds of Change exploring the impact of Ballast on New York was installed in 2017 at the New School. It received the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics.
Images Source: Maria Thereza Alves