Human Zoo
Voluspa Jarpa
April 27 - July 29, 2023

NOME is pleased to announce Human Zoo, Voluspa Jarpa’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. 

The Chilean artist Voluspa Jarpa’s work is based upon a meticulous analysis of political, historical, and social documents, which she uses as a starting point to reflect upon notions of memory, trauma, violence, displacement, and resistance. Human Zoo brings together new installation, mixed media works, and textile related to the inhumane practices of the popular ethnological expositions that were held throughout Europe, United States, and Canada in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Through the investigation of documents, archives, and repositories from different time periods, the works in Human Zoo are a testimony to the existence of the 156 human zoos that took place in 141 cities in 19 countries in Europe and North America between the years of 1822 and 1958. In them, 30.000 individuals belonging to 126 peoples from different territories around the world were exhibited as part of a colonial strategy that constructed and promoted the notion of European cultural and racial superiority. Nearly half a billion spectators visited these exhibitions over the course of 140 years and engaged with displays that served to popularize colonial, scientific, and cultural racism. Jarpa’s exhibition Human Zoo aims to reinstate and elaborate the untold, invisible stories of these colonial exhibitions through four intersecting lines of research into the history of hegemony that explore scientific racism, cultural canon, urban symbolism, and geopolitics. Using critical cartographic strategies, Jarpa extends this inquiry to tracking parallel migration streams that emerged at the same time that “non-white” people from all over the planet are exhibited, such as the massive migration of displaced and marginalized people in Europe following the Industrial Revolution.

Voluspa Jarpa (b.1971, Rancagua, Chile) lives and works in Santiago de Chile. She was the winner of the inaugural edition of the Julius Baer Art Prize for Latin American Female Artists. Jarpa has exhibited her work in solo exhibitions internationally and has participated in many international exhibitions including: Altered Views, Chilean Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, Italy (2019); BIENALSUR, Riyadh and Buenos Aires (2019); Proregress, 12th Shanghai Biennial (2018); Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017-2018); The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin at the Jewish Museum, New York (2017).


Opening: Thursday, 27 April, 6–9 PM
Press Release