Proposal for a Monument to Endemic Botany

Garanjonay Nature Reserve, La Gomera, 2011 (unrealised)

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Our work within the Garanjonay Nature Reserve of La Gomera will consist of documentation (through photography, drawing and notation) and the performing and documenting of a series of small, temporary interventions into the topography. Both the documentary field work and the ‘interventions’ will form a diverse body of work, building towards our final exhibition: ‘Proposal for a Monument (to Endemic Botany)’.

The notion of the ‘monument’ is a device through which the findings of our documentary research (our forays into the topography of La Gomera) will develop an architectural implication and form a critical dialogue with the ensemble of institutions that define the site and its properties (from the history of botanical and anthropological research on the island to contemporary tourism). The conceptual ambition of this ‘monument’ will be to engage with the notion of the ‘endemic’ (unique, indigenous species) and its meaning and value in the era of the anthropocene.

This botanical theme continues Photolanguage’s interest in the representation of plants and the tradition of the botanical foray. The ‘interventions’ will consist of a series of temporary constructs, light ‘architectural’ and botanical additions to the terrain of La Garanjonay forest floor. (The interventions will be cleared immediately after documentation, leaving no trace of their presence.) This will involve the transference/displacement of small quantities of found materials from the town/urban environment of La Gomera to the Nature Reserve.


This process will build and accumulate a series of simple actions/alterations that will stage a simultaneous transgression and articulation of the endemic laurisilva landscape. The result will be a ‘hybrid terrain’: a combination of the ‘reserved’ landscape, with elements of the contemporary culture that surround it. The original locations of the found objects and their destination in the forest will be recorded and mapped.

The documentation of these interventions along with the wider documentation of the forest will then be further developed off-site into the ‘Proposal for a Monument’, assembled through photography, text, photo-montage and physical models.

The ‘monument’ will be a ‘figure’ that exists only in words, images, models and the displacement of found artefacts. It will be a utopian construct. It will have no specific physical site. It will wander, speculatively across many sites, as if in search of a destination: the monument as a commemoration of an event/expedition/discovery. In this way, we wish to draw upon the association of the Canary Islands (and specifically La Gomera as one of the most westerly isles) with the history of utopian thinking and the discovery of ‘new worlds’, whilst also questioning the role of the utopian impulse in our current times. Our monument will be the utopian figure of exploration across internal frontiers, raising contemporary and historic contradictions and antagonisms in land use through the hybrid assemblage of found materials and terrains.

Project proposal for the cancelled Bienal de Canarias 2012.

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