Oscar Santillán

Forecast, 2021

Oscar Santillán’s practice departs from a transdisciplinary approach – connecting diverse scientific fields, cosmologies, and non-human perspectives – in order to participate within the complexity and conflicts of our planet. In his work he questions the dominant narratives that determine our worldview and our ecological system.

In Forecast he poses that the age of European Enlightenment paved the way for our current exploitation of the planet. The Western scientific revolution approached nature by dividing it into categories. The decoupling of man from nature effected the idea that man could exploit nature for his own good. This Western viewpoint was also exported to colonies in the Global South effectively destroying ecosystems and alternate knowledge of nature. Forecast highlights a continuity between colonial botany and the contemporary destruction of our planet. The presented device is inspired by the so-called Wardian case: a plant container invented in the 19th century to transport ‘exotic’ plants from European colonies into the continent. In essence the Wardian case is a greenhouse providing the plants with light and water that shows off the aesthetic of colonial richness. In contrast to the original, Santillán’s case is not transparent but made from solid black metal steel. The plants are only visible from the peep hole at the top. Looking inside, one can see begonias, lilies, bromelias originated in Mid-South America, Indonesia, China, India and Brazil, now for sale at any local garden centre. The plants are lit by six screens displaying a long series of apocalyptic films, keeping the garden alive with their tragic light. Forecast shows a continuity from colonial botany to present day exploitation into a dark future.