Projects > For Jeanne Baret: To Be Known


For Jeanne Baret: To Be Known (2019) presents my impressions of the life of Jeanne Baret, a history-making 18th-century French woman. Baret, disguised as a man, became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. I came upon Baret due to our shared interest in plants, particularly the tropical bougainvillea. Baret, an avid herbswoman, was the first westerner to identify the plant. Her lover, the named botanist on Baret's naval voyage, Philibert de Commerson, titled the plant for the ship's captain, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville. Baret's own name was hardly known until biographer Glynis Ridley published Jeanne's story in 2010: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret, A Story of Science, The High Seas, And The First Woman To Circumnavigate The Globe. Ridley helped me to know Jeanne Baret--her life, her knowledge, her fortitude, and her violent experiences at sea including physical assaults and rape. Today the plant she discovered, Bougainvillea, is ubiquitous. It's grown throughout the world grown wherever the sun prevails and frost is mute. For this project, I record contemporary instances of bougainvillea that connect Baret's story with my own.