Around Nature

On the occasion of the 5th Centenary of the first trip around the world, accomplished by Juan Sebastian Elcano and Fernando de Magallanes, Spanish artist Juanli Carrión designs a garden commissioned by the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain.

The garden is the centerpiece of a program of activities organized by the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain that began in 2020 with workshops, performances, and a series of online panel discussions presented in collaboration with the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences.

Commercial interests about clove and nutmeg were the principal motivation of Magellan & Elcano’s expedition that became the first trip around the world 500 years ago. The demand for these two spices in Europe would change the world forever on many levels: establishing the first global commercial route, connecting three continents ecologically and gastronomically, and setting the bases for our current globalized world.

About Juanli Carrión

Juanli Carrión is an artist, researcher and activist whose work unfolds in the development, research and education of community-engaged design and artistic practices. For over more than a decade his research has taken the form of art projects, publications, and curriculum development with an emphasis on social and environmental justice. He is currently focusing on the research of practices that expand beyond the art/design realm to become policies, non-profit organizations, associations, groups, or other sustainable social or political structures and practices, with the aim of translating the results into pedagogical strategies.

In 2017 he founded OSS Project, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to build and support public gardens as art interventions, using urban farming, storytelling, educational programming and community building as means to address systemic and structural issues of social inequity.

His work has been exhibited in venues such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Art in General, Abrons Arts Center, BRIC, Y Gallery or BAM in the US; ARTIUM, La Casa Encendida, La Panera Art Center, MUSAC, or CentroCentro in Spain; Ex-Teresa Museum and MUPO in Mexico; Museum of Contemporary Art in Peru and National Gallery of Modern Art in India among others. Carrión has expanded his academic research participating in lectures, panels and workshops at Columbia University, Open Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University, SVA, Pratt Institute, SUNY, NYU, AIA New York, Fordham Graduate School for Social Service, Wavehill or Apexart.

Seville (Spain)

Stop 1

White Oak

Quercus robus are native in most of Europe. Oaks have been proven to exist for 35 million years. One of the most used woods in Europe historically, large-diameter White Oak trees have become an increasingly rare wood as most quality timber was harvested over a century ago.

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Tenerife (Spain)

Stop 2

Dragon Tree

The Dragon Tree is a native subtropical tree originally from the Macaronesia, including the Canary Islands, and southwest Morocco. Stories about this mystical tree and its blood resin go back to Greek mythology, where these “dragon trees” were believed to have emerged from blood flowing upon the land from the slain hundred-headed dragon Ladon.

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Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Stop 3A

Cassava / Mandioca

The origin of domesticated Cassava probably happened 10,000 years ago in west-central Brazil. Today, 800 million people worldwide depend on Cassava as their primary food staple.

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Land of Verzin (Brazil)

Stop 3B


Pineapples originate from the Paraná–Paraguay River drainages between southern Brazil and Paraguay. Its domestication goes back more than 6,000 years, and reached the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico 2,500 years ago, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs.

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Port of San Julián (Argentina)

Stop 4


Podocarpus were endemic to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which broke up into Africa, South America, India, Australia-New Guinea, New Zealand, and New Caledonia between 105 and 45 million years ago. Today the tree can be found from southern Chile north to Mexico in the Americas and from New Zealand north to Japan in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Cabo Deseado (Chile)

Stop 5


Members of Araucaria are found in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Australia, New Guinea and Papua (Indonesia). Many if not all current populations are shrinking, and of restricted distribution. They are found in forest and maquis shrubland, with an affinity for exposed sites.

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Guam (USA)

Stop 6


The origin and domestication of sweet potato occurred in either Central or South America at least 5,000 years ago. The sweet potato was grown in Polynesia before western exploration, generally spread by vine cuttings.

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St. Lazarus Islands (Philippines)

Stop 7A

Palm Tree

Humans have used palms since the beginning of their existence. Its cultivation dates back more than 5,000 years ago by the Mesopotamians growing date palms. Areca catechu is a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa.

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St. Lazarus Islands (Philippines)

Stop 7B


Tobacco use has been documented for over 8,000 years. Tobacco cultivation likely began in 5000 BC with the development of maize-based agriculture in Central Mexico. Tobacco had already long been used in the Americas by the time European settlers arrived and took the practice to Europe, where it became popular.

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St. Lazarus Islands (Philippines)

Stop 7C


Ginger originated from Maritime Southeast Asia. It is a true cultigen and does not exist in the wild. The most ancient evidence of its domestication is among the Austronesian peoples where it was among several species of ginger cultivated and exploited since ancient times.

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Stop 8


The earliest domestication of bananas were initially from naturally occurring parthenocarpy (seedless) individuals of Musa acuminata banksii in New Guinea. These were cultivated by Papuans before the arrival of Austronesian-speakers. Presence of bananas dates back 10,000 years.

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Maluku Islands (Indonesia)

Stop 9A


In colonial times, sugar formed one side of the triangle trade of New World raw materials, along with European manufactured goods, and African slaves. Sugarcane was at some point in history considered the white gold, and many commercial wars have been fought in name of sugar over history.

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Maluku Islands (Indonesia)

Stop 9B


Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, the neighboring Malabar Coast of India, and Myanmar. Signs of commercialization date back to ancient Egypt, more than 5,000 years ago, where it would become at some point more valuable than gold.

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Ternate (Indonesia)

Stop 10A

Tree Fern

Tree ferns are found growing in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide, as well as cool to temperate rainforests in Australia, New Zealand and neighboring regions including Islandic Southeast Asia. Ferns are one of the most ancient plants known today dating more than 358 million years ago.

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Tidore (Indonesia)

Stop 10B

Orange Tree

The origin of domesticated sweet orange goes back 7,000 years ago in different parts of Asia. Probably what we know today as a common sweet orange originated from the hybridization of Mandarin and Pomelo Citrus in what is today Southeast China.

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Timor (East Timor)

Stop 11


Eucalypts originated between 35 and 50 million years ago, not long after Australia-New Guinea separated from Gondwana. They are mostly native to Australia, with a very small number of native species found in parts of adjacent New Guinea and Indonesia and one as far away as the Philippines.

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Cape Verde

Stop 12


Fossil records reveal that Artemisia L. possibly originated from the existing arid or subarid area of temperate Asia 30 million years ago. Artemisia species are found on every continent except Antarctica. Artemisa gorgonum is a species endemic to Cape Verde.

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