< Garden of Mixtures: Attempts to Make Place, 1995 -… > is an exhibition devoted to the work of Alejandra Riera and the poetic means she employs to make space, to make room. The exhibition begins with a recurring image in her practice: a collective canvas or portrait, which for this occasion takes the form of a garden in movement.
From the beginning, the creative approach to color and the weaving and writing of plants allows the exhibition’s slow temporality and collaborative process to unfold. Since 2017, at the artist’s behest, the heart of the exhibition – its breathing space and that which will live on afterwards – is located in two of the museum garden’s seven flowerbeds, with the aim of enriching their impoverished soil and transforming them collectively. The contact with the earth and the living entities that inhabit it takes place through a study of the site, its history and geography. Gradually, the soil is revitalized, while those who tend to the garden and/or use it as a public space come together and reaffirm its status as both a meeting place and an ecological life-force. The collective formed through this experience, also called Garden of Mixtures, testifies to a shared reflection and action, and, in so doing, discovers its aptitude to work together.
For the exhibition, we have tried to go beyond the format of the retrospective and experiment, through a unique, shared experience, with ways to “renew” ideas and questions taken from the archives of “lieuxdétudes” [Placesofstudies] developed by the artist almost three decades ago and which are presented here.
Lieuxdétudes are places of refuge, both imaginary and real, attempts to understand and relate to life, to history and its complexities. They take a variety of forms ranging from models to the creation of images-texts and film-documents, and include ways and means of practicing a “cinema-experience”.
Begun "until the date of…”, continued with pauses and sometimes abandoned, these attempts have given way to the expression of multiple and sometimes rarely heard worlds, voices, questions, dreams, and knowledge – attempts that Alejandra Riera has interwoven over time in order to reflect on and accompany shared experiences, presented here in her work, along with works by collaborating artists.
The result of individual effort and long-term commitment, Lieuxdétudes create and sustain places of awareness and affect, spaces for questioning and collective breathing. They are works-in-progress that emerge at the very place where one decides to abandon a given state of affairs in order to make way for “friendly transformations”, to quote the poet Tamara Díaz Bringas.
How to make use of the poetic means undertaken in these attempts in a concrete way? How to experience their long duration and focus on their dense interweaving? How to do so by creating places that are open to anyone who approaches them?
< Garden of Mixtures: Attempts to Place, 1995 -…- > is not conceived as a closed space and time (the exhibition space and its programmed duration), but rather as a set of unique places bound by an open narrative framework that can be approached as an anagram, in which “nothing is first and nothing is last”.
To facilitate access to the different fragments and works that make up the density and diversity of the garden, which has no official entrance or exist, the artist proposes four pathways, or suggested itineraries, derived from the vocabulary of Lieuxdétudes, which emphasize physical perception and ways of doing things:
Poetics(s) of Incompleteness; Observations on Colors: The Place of Questioning and Doubt; Portrait(s) of the Collective: Tools and Poetry of Togetherness; Plants: Presences and Thoughts in Motion.
Thus, the following can be visited in no particular order:
- The hallway and the vaults where an attempt was made in 2013 to resume Poétique(s) de l'incompletement, which included drilling a hole in a wall concealing a trapdoor in the old hospital where the museum is currently located, subsequently creating a passageway of natural air and light to the basement and at the same time uncovering the site’s history.
- The action of opening continues on the ground floor in the garden of the former hospital where the Garden of Mixtures collective, comprised of an open-ended group of people from both the museum and beyond, seeks to make room for the coexistence of the human-and-non-human presences that dwell there. How do these presences interrelate? How to make room for living entities that undermine the imaginary separation between what is considered “human” and “non-human”? Between who has the right to speak and who is considered voiceless? How can these entities communicate and support each other? What do we learn when we pay attention to the space in which we find ourselves? How does it transforms itself and how do we transform it?
- The galleries on the third floor of the Sabatini Building where the Lieuxdétudes are also exhibited along with other works