< Live Streams

Expedición Machu Picchu: Orquídea parásita verde

Machu Picchu Expedition: Green Parasitic Orchid


Found object, drawing and photographs on paper, 60 x 40cm. ESCALA

Baraya’s artwork mimics the colonial expeditions of the eighteenth century, when botanists, zoologists and scientists travelled to the Americas to gain knowledge about the people and plants of the so-called New World. These groups, known as travellers, relied on Eurocentric knowledge systems based on empiricism and objectivity.

In this piece, Baraya plays the role of a traveller. The artwork consists of a plastic flower, collected on a trip to Machu Picchu pinned to a sheet of paper with botanical drawings and calculations. Photographs of local people measuring the artist’s head re-enact the practice of phrenology, a pseudoscience grounded in racist thought. The artwork’s individual elements combine to form an absurdist pseudo-experiment intended to parody scientific study and thus question the true objectivity of the original travellers.

Alberto Baraya

Colombia, 1968

Alberto Baraya is a multimedia artist who works with installation, drawing, photography, sculpture and video. In his practice Baraya ironically plays the role of the traveller and explorer, mimicking the techniques deployed in botanical and anthropological expeditions that were developed as part of the scientific and colonial agendas born at the start of the modern world. Baraya’s work features regularly in major international exhibitions, including Manifesta 12 Palermo –The European Nomadic Biennial: The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence, Palermo, Italy, in 2018; Flora, at the Stavanger Kunstmuseum (MUST) in Norway, in 2019. He is represented by the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) at the University of Essex.


Live Streams is curated by Lisa Blackmore (School of Philosophy & Art History and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Essex), Diego Chocano (Assistant Curator of Essex Collection of Art from Latin America/University Art Collections) and Emilio Chapela (Artist and Research Assistant at the University of Essex). This website was built by David Medina.

Art Exchange is the University of Essex’s on-campus gallery dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art from emerging and established international artists. It is directed by Jess Twyman.