Plant Life of the Pacific World is a exhibition of delicate flower and plant forms assembled from collaged photographs of nuclear explosions, each classified in accordance with American botanist E. D. Merrill's book from which the exhibition takes its name. In this new work Noronha Feio plays with the relationships between beauty, conflict, the foreign and the domestic.
Originally published for military use in 1945, Plant Life of the Pacific World has been transformed by Noronha Feio from Merrill's dry classification of flora into an explosive revelry of intense, amoebic forms. The work defuses one of the most recognisable symbols of destruction, horror and power to create a sumptuous taxonomy combining the nuclear mutations of popular fiction, the evolutionary mutations of Darwin's Galapagos and an imagined botany of Bikini Atoll, whose use as nuclear testing grounds followed the book's publication.
At a time when the debate on copyright of audio-visual material is in the public consciousness with the consideration of the US online piracy bill, Noronha Feio's collages are also a pertinent exploration of the transformation in meaning through the reuse of imagery. Amongst the more organic structures and those that almost resemble insignia and geometric designs, the work presents a constant interplay between chaos and order, growth and organisation, the handmade and the appropriated.
Carlos Noronha Feio is a multimedia artist whose works explore cultural, local and global identities and the instability of meaning. He has exhibited and performed widely in the UK and abroad including the Whitechapel Gallery, London; the National Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow; Navicula Artis, Saint Petersburg; Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes; Colchester Art Centre, Colchester; Abrons Art Centre, New York; Museu Nogueira da Silva, Braga; Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and Fundação EDP in Lisbon and Centro cultural Helio Oiticica in Rio de Janeiro.