Aleix Plademunt
Iberia
2020
Iberia is part of the Matter series, which Aleix Plademunt began in 2013. A composition of photographs in which, as in other projects, under the appearance of a panoramic image and with a certain naturalistic epic quality, Plademunt exposes the fragility of the landscape, this time of the Amazon rainforest. In early 2019, the artist spent time in Iberia, in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru, in the province of Tahuamanu on the Bolivian border. A natural paradise made up of vast areas of jungle rich in natural resources, exploited and coveted by unscrupulous politicians and businessmen.

The original peoples of this area, who for centuries lived on the banks of the Tahuamanu River, were displaced in the second half of the 19th century by Bolivian settlers led by the Suarez brothers, who set out to exploit rubber, or shiringa (Hevea brasiliensis). In 1903, Asturian rubber workers Máximo and Baldomero Rodríguez arrived in the area. Realising that this natural element was under the control of settlers, they requested resources from the Peruvian government, which provided them with gendarmes, and with the support of the Campa and Chama tribes confronted the Bolivians. Following a bloody episode, the Bolivians withdrew from the area and the Rodríguez brothers took over, naming the town Fundo Iberia in honour of their native country. This new period of natural and human exploitation by the hands of the Rodríguez family lasted 27 years: more than 300 hectares of rubber plundered with the forced labour of the native peoples. Based on this repeated exploitation, Plademunt presents 117 photographs of trees from which rubber is extracted. This figure corresponds to the number of years that have elapsed since the aforementioned historical episode until 2020, the year the project was carried out. The marked frontality of the images, their solemnity and objective style reinforce their critical gaze. The project is completed with a text denouncing the situation along with two more photographs: an ancient Iberian sculpture from between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC, and the bust of Máximo Rodríguez that is installed in the centre of the town square in Iberia. In the presentation text of the work, Plademunt explains: “The aesthetic of the photographs aims to represent a colonial attitude and gaze, with a clear intention to hide and and at the same time match the enormous diversity of the flora also photographed, yet leading the viewer’s interest exclusively to the rubber trees and their exploitation.”
The texts of the MACBA Collection draw on previous documentation. Please let us know if you find any errors.
original title
Iberia
year of acquisition
2020
type of object
Installation
dimensions
2 photographs: 92 x 70 cm c/u; 117 photographs: 32,23,2 cm c/u and 1 text print: 32 x 19,5 cm
Copyright
© Aleix Plademunt
registration number
R.5811
date
2020
fonds
Col·lecció MACBA. Dipòsit de la Generalitat de Catalunya
media
Inkjet print on cotton paper and offset print on coated paper and wood
credits
MACBA Collection. Government of Catalonia long-term loan. National Collection of Photography
Rubber
Trees
Colonization
Peru
Rodríguez, Máximo
images
6 images
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