Over the last two decades, Gabriela Albergaria has found in gardens and their history a basis for thinking about how the representation of nature governs our understanding of it, and also how such representations reveal the historical and political consequences of European colonialism and expansion. Albergaria's sculptures, installations, photographs, and drawings embody the artist's systematic reflection on the taming of nature as recorded in eighteenth-century botanical gardens, introductions of non-native plant species, and other ecosystemic modifications. Her creations aim to reveal the historical and perceptual aspects of human appropriations and manipulations of the plant world over the centuries. This anthological publication follows closely the many chapters of her artistic journey.
Published following the eponymous exhibition at Cultugest, Lisbon, in 2020.
Born 1965 in Portugal, Gabriela Albergaria lives and works between Brussels and Lisbon. Her work involves one territory: nature. A nature manipulated, planted, transported, set in hierarchy, catalogued, studied, felt and recalled through the ongoing exploration of gardens in photography, drawing and sculpture. The artist views gardens as elaborated constructs, representational systems and descriptive mechanisms that epitomize a set of fictional beliefs that are employed to represent the natural world. Gardens are also environments dedicated to leisure and study, cultural and social processes that produce a historical understanding of what is knowledge and what is pleasure.
More generally, the images of gardens and plant species employed by the artist are used as devices to reveal processes of cultural change through which visions of nature are produced. Mediated by representation systems they generate different versions of what we see as landscape—itself a complex system of material structures and visual hierarchies, cultural constructs that define the framing of our visual field.