The approaches to the Palais de la Porte Dorée have been renovated. The artist-botanist Liliana Motta wished to rehabilitate the plants from other continents, accused of being “invasive”, by underscoring their ornamental, medicinal and dietary qualities: broom, clematis, pepper plants are mingled with rarer plants waiting to be discovered in this new garden.
The new Palace garden imagined by Liliana Motta contains nearly 130 varieties of plants from all parts of the world.
It echoes the site itself: a palace built for the International Colonial Exposition of 1931, the Museum of the History of Immigration (Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration) and the tropical aquarium. Asian, American or African plants that arrived by chance in France or were brought back by naturalists from the beginning of the 16th century: all were chosen for their distant origins.
Liliana Motta favors “foreign species” coming from all over the world that are the result of trade or human migrations. The garden is notably composed of so-called "invasive" plants, or “weeds” as gardeners usually call them. Liliana Motta is a specialist in the use of these plants that are sometimes described by scientists as “plant pests”, dangerous for the ecosystem where they develop. By largely using these plants in her creations, she intends to go against this view, refuting the argument that all of them systematically represent an ecological risk and are devoid of interest. To the contrary, their study helps us understand part of the history of the places where they are found, and by extension the history of the people who live near these plants. Indeed most of them have been brought by people from one country to the other, voluntarily or not, and therefore also through immigration (like, for example, horseradish imported by Polish immigration to the North of France.)
Above all, the idea of this garden is to serve as an educational tool, not only for visitors to discover plant species but also to incite them to ask themselves questions: about human migrations, cultural exchanges, wealth created by diversity. In this way the garden is simply an introduction to the themes presented in the centre’s exhibitions.
Un jardin pour le Palais de la Porte Dorée. Rencontre avec Liliana Motta, avril 2013.
Artist, botanist, landscape architect with a degree from the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris (School of Fine Arts), Liliana Motta is a professor at the École nationale supérieure du paysage (National School of Landscaping) in Versailles. She regularly collaborates with the architect Patrick Bouchain, who was entrusted with the renovation of the Palais de la Porte Dorée.
"My history is that of someone who is not at home and who tries to have roots like others. It was meeting with a plant that allowed me to create the missing tie between myself and others (...) My adoptive family is a botanical family, the polygonaceae family, more precisely I collect the genus Polygonum." (Liliana Motta in Musica Falsa n°18).