Elsa Salonen

Alquimia Vegetal

bleached medicinal plants collected from Colombia and their distilled colours, glass, alum
2016, 300x150x40 cm (installation), 50x60 cm (painting)


The artist collected local medicinal plants from specialised natural healers, 'hierbateros', in traditional marketplaces in Cali, Colombia. The selected plants were bleached and preserved in glass vessels designed by the artist. In addition, colours were distilled from 'penicilina' plants and used for painting a golden image on paper. For the exhibition space, a pedestal referring to pre-Colombian tombs was built with soil and artificial human bones.


In the cycles of life the same material circulates endlessly from one organism to another. These cycles are as old as our planet. Does the matter have memory? Are the healing capacities of medicinal plants based precisely on these memories?

Thanks:
Thematic consultancy / local medicinal plants: herbalist Jorge Casilimas

Technical support / glass vessels: glassblowing studio / Walter Velasco
Project location / artist-in-residence: Lugar a dudas, Cali, Colombia

Exhibition views: Acud Macht Neu, Berlin, 2016
Used medicinal plants: abre camino, brazo fuerte, coca, pata de buey, penicilina

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Many have said of Alchemy, that it is for the making of gold and silver. For me such is not the aim, but to consider only what virtue and power may lie in medicines. The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore, the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.

Paracelsus, 1493-1541