Collection

Cinthya Soto (1969 - )

Botánico (2008)
Botanical

Digital print on paper
height: 42cm
width: 39.5cm
Print

Commissioned by ESCALA 2009

1-2009

Cinthya Soto’s photographic piece Botánico is situated within a larger series named Artificio/Natura which uses the medium of photography to encourage the viewer to question their perception of reality and how photography is used as a tool to capture, classify and exhibit experiences of nature. Botánico itself is an analogue photograph of a select portion of the collection of flora at the Zurich University Botanical Garden, an institution that boasts a collection of over eight thousand cultivated species of plants. Due to the nature of Soto’s photograph we are left uncertain of the genre of the piece – it brings attention to mankind’s obsession with classifying the natural world by itself being unclassifiable; Botánico is neither a landscape nor a still life.

Just as Soto has restricted the content of the photograph through her tightly framed composition, she has also restricted the chromatic palette of the photograph: green and blue dominate the image while shades of brown complete the earthy impression. Colour and composition enable Soto to produce textures and sensations. The dense foliage in the foreground exhibits a rich sense of texture which invites the viewer into the space collapsing the distance between the two realities, that of the viewer and that of the garden. The viewer is then transported into the canopy by a lone tree trunk where they can become overwhelmed by a sudden saturation of light. The bright blue sky pushing through the glass panels is almost suffocating, while the metal framework reveals the photograph’s true location and shatters the illusion of the wild tropics. The viewer is abruptly called back from the illusion of the tropical utopia through the careful framing of the photograph. Soto leaves her artist’s mark in the form of the data of the Kodak film that is displayed on the edge of the piece: a reminder of the technological barrier between the spectator and the garden.

The convergence of light, colour and texture creates a familiar image of the curated tropical ecosystem – one which can be encountered from the gaudy waiting room at the dentist to the carefully managed Kew Gardens. It is this sense of curation that drives Soto’s work; photography is both the medium and subject of her artwork. Soto brings into question the phenomenology of our experience, probing what makes our experience intelligible and how we qualify our reality. The medium of photography is layered with complexities regarding the nature of the human understanding of reality and our obsessive need to classify the unclassifiable. Soto´s photograph at once self-consciously recognises these complexities even as it offers an invitation to sensorial experience. However, it is Soto’s engagement with the construction of reality that is at the heart of her work and can leave the spectator somewhat disorientated.

(Text taken from the exhibition catalogue for Gone to Ground, 2019)

Evans, Emily, 2019

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