Human Zoo

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, textile, and engraving related to the inhumane practices of the popular ethnological expositions that were held throughout Europe and United States in the nineteenth and early 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.

Tipo de Investigación:
NOME Gallery
  • Amsterdam 1883, Awarahena
    Fine art print on paper
  • Amsterdam 1883, Johannes Kojo
    Fine art print on paper
  • Atlas Series 1
    Multilayered digital print on silk
  • Atlas Series 2
    Multilayered digital print on silk
  • 2022
    The Hegemonic Map
    Laser engraved steel, brass, and copper
  • Zoo List
    Installation: floating prints on transparent PVC
  • 2021
    Zoológicos humanos: Berlín, 1896
    (Human Zoos: Berlin, 1896)
    Fine art print on paper
  • Incognito Cartography: Exhibited
    Multimedia installation: video projection, print and interventions on textile
  • Incognito Cartography: Public
    Multimedia installation: video projection, print and interventions on textile
  • Exhibited: America
    Video, print on aluminum
  • Exhibited: Asia
    Video, print on aluminum
  • 2021
    Serie cartografía de la colonización - 1634
    (Colonization Cartography Series - 1634)
    Digital print, ink and collage on polyester paper


PHOTOS: Billie Clarken

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