Teresa Pereda (1956 - )

Territorio (2003)

Soil and etching in wood and glass box
height: 24cm
width: 24cm

Donated by Teresa Pereda 2003


This diptych belongs to a series of works in which Pereda explores the territory of Argentina, Argentina as land and landscape, earth and dust, as an abstract idea and as the home of different peoples. As she says in her Artist Statement, in researching these works she journeyed over long geographical distances but also over social, economic and cultural distances. These boxes contain dried earth from two regions of Argentina: from Oberá in the province of Misiones in the extreme northeast of the country, and from Arenaza in the humid pampa of the province of Buenos Aires, where Pereda was born. The iron-rich soil of Misiones is red while that of Arenaza is grey, and as the boxes are tipped the dust slides across the surface of details of maps of each area, clinging to the lines and marks pressed into the surface of the paper, and coming to rest in a new configuration of hills and plains.

Pereda's practice is closely related to anthropology. Since her childhood she has felt an affinity with the rural populations of Argentina and travels widely, always involving the local population in her work. She talks to them about their land and their memories, and they often provide her with the soil that she then incorporates into her art.

Valerie Fraser, 2008

The diptych Territorio (Territory) was created by Teresa Pereda through her exploration of her native territory in Argentina. The artist collected soil from different regions and placed it in wood and glass boxes, on top of two square etchings. The red soil came from Obera in the Misiones province, while the grey soil was from Arenaze in Buenos Aires. While the small etchings in the middle of the frame do not represent real locations, they are reminiscent of maps. The straight lines in the etchings resemble the boundaries between regions or countries, while the curved lines look like rivers. When the box is tilted, the soil passes through the detailed grooves of each area in the etchings. The uprooted soil clings to the lines and markings pressed into the surface of the paper and is relocated to a new place.

Pereda’s work is also related to anthropology and geology. Here, earth elements are used to explore aesthetically relationships between humans and the land. This artwork reflects upon the connections between human power and nature. As an element of the earth, soil provides the necessary conditions for the lives that reside on it. Plants rely on soil for nutrients and animals create habitats amid soil and plants. Soil is one of the world’s most important resources to sustain life. All terrestrial and marine life living on earth is directly or indirectly affected by soil. Food that humans consume can be traced back to the origins of soil, so while it may not appear to be an important factor to our daily life, soil serves as the basis for survival. Following the growth of civilization, farmers began to expand into areas that were previously thought unsuitable for the survival of human beings. Extensive agriculture is weakening the soil leaving it susceptible to erosion, which reduces water holding capacity and the ability to retain nutrients. The effects of eroded soil are limiting the ability for crops to grow and leaving our lands more vulnerable to floods or droughts. The effects of extensive agriculture may get even worse in the future. Accelerated agricultural production is causing degradation of soil quality on a global scale. As the global population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, food security is being threatened.

Territorio reflects the tense relationship between man and nature. The artwork itself is composed of few elements. It is not representing a landscape in a conventional way that would provide us with a recognizable scene to contemplate. It demands that the viewer tries to imagine how the elements influence each other. The small etched “maps” are placed in confrontation with the soil, which in one of the works appears to be covering the map perhaps suggesting the potential for disaster. It recalls the imagery of a world devastated by the power of nature. In this way, Pereda’s work suggests that people must respect and follow the laws of nature. Human beings must live in harmony with nature and coordinate development to prevent further devastation.

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

Lyu, Yang, 2019

browse the collection

artist a-z > work type > advanced search >