This essay by the Colombian art critic José Ignacio Roca Acosta-Madiedo (b. 1962) is important because of the way it links the history of the country to a range of “dysfunctions” and “exclusions” portrayed by Colombian artists who interpret death in botanical terms in order to reflect the complexities of the conflict and the image of violence projected by the media. This essay—that precedes Botánica Política [Political Botany] (2004), the exhibition that Roca curated—is significant because it discusses the development of identity in Colombia from a historical perspective in which European scientific opinions and travelers’ observations reinforce a system based on exclusion and inequality. This essay also refers to works that contribute relevant ideas from a number of different perspectives: criticism of the media whose coverage desensitizes the public to violence (Musa Paradisiaca, 1994); death in daily life in Colombia (Jardín Vertical [Vertical Garden], 1999); and the judicial and testimonial record (Tríptico Judicial [Judicial Triptych], 1998),among other exhibitions.
This essay originally appeared in the magazine Lápiz (no. 178) [Pencil (no. 178)] in Madrid in December 2001. This particular issue of the magazine focused on the repercussions of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States “from a perspective related to art and critical discourse, addressing the media images and contemporary culture’s concept of catastrophe, history, its paintings of wars and myths, internal violence in the Basque Country, and the links between a drug economy and the vindication of politics in Colombia, whose blood-soaked past seems to be permanently forgotten.” (B. Olmo 2001). Excerpts of Flora Necrológica [Necrological Flora] also appeared in an article on Colombian art during the 1990s in the catalogue for the exhibition Políticas de la diferencia, Arte Iberoamericano de fin de siglo (2002) [Policies of Difference: Iberian-American Art of the End of the Century (2002)] coordinated by Kevin Power. On May 31, 2003 the essay was posted on the web page Columna de Arena (no. 50) [Column of Sand (no. 50)], (http://www.universes-in-universe.de/columna/col50/index.htm) titled Flora Necrológica: Imágenes para una geografía política de las plantas [Necrological Flora: Images for a Political Geography of Plants].
Roca’s essay was also presented at the exhibition Botánica Política: usos de la ciencia, usos de la historia [Political Botany: Uses of Science, Uses of History], Fundación la Caixa de Barcelona (2004)and later, in Bogotá, at the Banco de la República’s exhibition Historia Natural y política: conocimientos y representaciones de la naturaleza americana [Natural and Political History: Knowledge and Depictions of American Nature], curated by the Colombian historian Mauricio Nieto (September 2008–January 2009).