Ligaya Salazar’s project A World of Islands – On Palms, Storms and Pineapples considers the juxtaposition between contemporary interests of the Global North in indigenous practices and materials, and historical fabrications of tropical utopia and dystopia. Positing the ‘tropics’ as both a mythological and real place with shared colonial trauma but wildly divergent histories and cultures, the project will unpick some of the tropes of tropicality and relocate agency in the ‘tropical’ narrative.
Using the relationship between the Philippines and Mexico in the period of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade (1565 – 1815) as a starting point, in particular the exchange of plants and the craft, building, food and medicinal knowledge associated with them, the project focusses on the continued omission of the individuals that held and continue to pass on knowledge about these practices. The coconut palm, banana tree and pineapple plant act as lenses into the subject.
A World of Islands references the importance of readjusting notions of what can be understood as the centre and the periphery (the mainland and the island) in the trade of knowledge plants, and material. It reminds us of how we all interconnect in ways we have unlearnt.
Ligaya Salazar is a curator and programme director who has devised creative cultural programmes across the cultural and museum sectors for 15 years. Her work as a curator and commissioner focuses on contemporary interdisciplinary practice at the intersection of design, fashion, art and graphics. Her approach is shaped by an interest in how audiences can be positioned at the heart of curatorial practice, enabling a human-centred take on storytelling. As Director of Fashion Space Gallery and Arcade East, at the University of the Arts’ London College of Fashion campus, she developed the strategic direction for the two spaces and managed the programme, budget and team. She devised the public exhibition and events programmes there from 2013–20 and curated specific projects as part of that, including the Designer in Residence programme, Creative Lab, Polyphonic Playground and Fordlandia.
She is currently working on two upcoming exhibitions: on the subjectivity of sight at the Wellcome Collection, London (2022), and on the design of sneakers at the Design Museum, London (2021).