Everything has a name, or the potential to be named

Everything has a name, or the potential to be named


Antonio Caro
Maiz (Corn)

April 29, 2009

Everything has a name, or the potential to be named
Maria Thereza Alves, Vasco Araujo, Alberto Baraya, Matthew Buckingham, Luis Camnitzer, Antonio Caro, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Jimmie Durham, Andrea Geyer, Miler Lagos,
Gabriel Sierra.

1 May 2009 – 21 June 2009

Curated by Anna Colin and Catalina Lozano

155 Vauxhall Street
London SE11 5RH
Open Wednesday – Sunday 12-6pm



Pre-opening event: Wednesday 29 April, 5-7pm, Jimmie Durham and Andrea Geyer in conversation at Goldsmiths.

Preview: Thursday 30 April, 7-9pm

Everything has a name, or the potential to be named* is a group exhibition that focuses on how European colonial powers during the 17th and 18th Centuries appropriated the natural environment in the Americas. The exhibition features works which address how organisms, land and people have been respectively classified, renamed and dislocated by generations of explorers and colonisers, as a consequence of economically and scientifically motivated expeditions by European empires to the Americas.

In reconsidering this history many of the artists critically re-appropriate such colonial interpretative systems. By examining the relationship between land, language, botany and colonialism, they reveal the imperialist quest to produce a universal index with which to perceive and tame the other and the ‘unknown’. They do so through research, documentary, film and mapping practices; via text and outdoor interventions; and by using tactics, which are often humorous, to evade or overcome determinism.

* “Everything has a name, or the potential to be named, but who does the naming when the unknown is falsely assumed not to exist?” is extracted from the text of the voice-over of Matthew Buckingham’s film Muhheakantuck—Everything Has a Name, 2003.


Four public events will contextualise the works and contribute to enlarging the historical parameters of the exhibition.

Wednesday 29 April, 5 – 7pm
Jimmie Durham and Andrea Geyer: A Conversation

Venue: Ian Gulland Lecture Hall, Goldmiths, New Cross, London SE14 6NW
The artists will be in conversation about issues of appropriation and of the fabrication of history, resulting from colonialism and capitalist economy.

Tuesday 26 May, 5.15 – 7pm
Seeds of Change, a lecture by Maria Thereza Alves

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Chelsea College of Art & Design, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU
The artist will present Seeds of Change, 2005, a project that deals with ‘ballast flora’, an area of botanical study that has been marginalised for bearing direct links with the slave trade.

Thursday 28 May, 7 – 9pm
Natural History and the Appropriation of the New World: Drawing, Assembling and Naming Species – a lecture by Mauricio Nieto

Venue: British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Science historian Mauricio Nieto will talk about his research on the 18th Century Botanical Expeditions to the New World and the ways in which the illustrations that depicted their findings were constructed to legitimise the colonial appropriation of nature in scientific terms.

Wednesday 9 June, 7 – 9pm
Visiting Artists talk with Alberto Baraya, Miler Lagos and Gabriel Sierra

Venue: Gasworks
Residency artists Miler Lagos and Gabriel Sierra will be joined by Alberto Baraya in a talk about their practice and their work presented in the exhibition.

These events are organised in association with Department of Art, Goldsmiths, as part of Contemporary Art Talks, TrAIN, University of the Arts London, the British Academy and the Embassy of Colombia in the UK.

The exhibition and preceding residencies have been made possible with the generous support of: Catherine Petitgas, the Embassy of Colombia in the UK, Arts Council England, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Elephant Trust.

For press information and images, please contact Amber Smyrniadis at: press@gasworks.org.uk

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April 29, 2009

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