GUT_BRAIN 1: Destructive Desires and Other Destinies of Excess (Part 2)

Ane Graff, THE GOBLETS (GENERALISED ANXIETY DISORDER), 2021. Courtesy the artist.

GUT_BRAIN 1: Destructive Desires and Other Destinies of Excess (Part 2)

January 8–March 15, 2024
The Blackwood, University of Toronto Mississauga

Curated by Irmgard Emmelhainz and Christine Shaw

With Allora & Calzadilla, Baum & Leahy, Miguel Calderón, Jo Ann Callis, Minerva Cuevas, Patricia Domínguez, Ines Doujak, Duke & Battersby, Ane Graff, Tsēmā Igharas, Lake Verea, Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Tania Willard, Guadalupe Maravilla, Dafna Maimon, Dana Prieto, Mika Rottenberg, Marina Roy, Tejal Shah, Miriam Simun, Dannielle Tegeder, Miguel Ventura, Alberta Whittle

GUT_BRAIN is an exhibition series inspired by the primary movements of the digestive system: ingestion, propulsion, mechanical breakdown, chemical digestion, absorption, and elimination.

The first movement, Destructive Desires and Other Destinies of Excess, materializes at the mouth. The mouth tracks the destinies of excess: the origins and symptoms of injurious forms of interdependency that have led to our toxic world. Part two of GUT_BRAIN 1 (January 8–March 15, 2024) focuses on artists who recognize that modern technologies at the centre of a project of future worldmaking are linked to destructive desires, toxic masculinity, feminicide, dependency on fossil fuels, land dispossession, chemical contamination, remaindered and redundant populations, necropower, and the colonial technosphere to sustain life. The exhibition moves from injury to potential, from predation and separation to symbiosis, from damage to possible futures.

Dana Prieto, Spoil [mock-up product campaign], 2020. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Dana Prieto.

In the Blackwood galleries

Dannielle Tegeder’s commissioned wall drawing resembles the often invisible material and digital infrastructures that sustain human lives while functioning as a device to relate to the beyond; Ane Graff’s glass goblets filled with toxic materials linked to mental illness highlight how substances we consume daily shape epigenetic changes; in Marina Roy’s paintings made of bitumen, the human desire to devour and consume is set against the backdrop of capital accumulation and environmental destruction; Minerva CuevasFamine 3.6 is a chocolate-dripping machine that evokes the production of cacao (the ground base for chocolate) in Mexico, which is exported to be consumed in European countries, leaving famine and environmental devastation behind; Dana Prieto’s olfactory installation physically and poetically entangles us with the smell of soil near sites of gold extraction by Canadian mining companies operating in the Americas; Miguel Ventura’s collage exposes what is erased by late Modernity or by solidified power of which Starchitecture is emblematic: exported weapons, foreign wars, and a trail of masses who have disappeared and died across sacrifice zones; Lake Verea’s photographs of Guatemalan bodyguards portray men of Indigenous backgrounds whose elders once defended their territory: now they must make a living defending those in power; Guadalupe Maravilla’s retablo represents the artist returning to his homeland for the first time since the Salvadoran Civil War, serving as a poignant reminder of the resilience that emerges from experiences of conflict and displacement.

Clockwise: Ines Doujak, Ghost Populations, 2016-ongoing; Alberta Whittle, Business As Usual, 2015; Patricia Domínguez, Matrix Vegetal (video still), 2022; Baum & Leahy, Taste Olck (detail), part of Sensory Cellumonials, 2021. All courtesy the artist.

In the UTM campus lightboxes and on a public billboard

Lightbox Cycle 3 (January 8–February 14) explores destinies of excess through centring objects tied to destructive desires. The five images attune to consumption, the ways in which the body recognizes or fails to acknowledge the sensations of overindulgence. Miguel Calderón’s billboard image featuring a snake trapped in a beer can evokes the sugary lure behind self-destruction. Jo Ann Callis’ eclair points at the capitalist invention of the desirability of foods over sustained nourishment. Minerva Cuevas’ chocolate bar alludes to the historical use of cannibalism to justify European extractivism and colonization in the Americas. Allora & Calzadilla depict landscapes in Vieques, Puerto Rico, revealing that these paradisiacal sites were designated for hazardous waste disposal. Tsēmā Igharas transforms decommissioned Canadian pennies into a melted copper anomaly, highlighting the cultural and industrial value of copper.

Lightbox Cycle 4 (February 14–March 27) features artists who examine the interconnectivities within and outside the body to address the entangled economic, technological, microbiological, and ecological crises of our time. Ines Doujak’s creature, assembled from images in nineteenth-century medical books, represents diseased bodies in perpetual flux and outgrowth, where disruptive forces transform structural violence into visible forms. Alberta Whittle’s work critiques institutional performativity, envisioning freedom through Afrofuturism among the stars to escape Earth’s inequalities. Baum & Leahy imagine a transformed future through a deeper understanding of cellular biology, guided by “Olcks,” guardians intricately linked to the senses. Patricia Domínguez attunes to life beyond her body, learning the vegetal world’s languages and wisdoms to create quantum possibilities for healing.

In the cinema
February 17, 12-4pm
Small World Music Centre, 180 Shaw St, Toronto

This video program speculates on Other Destinies of Excess: practices of world-making in the face of dire ecological and existential threats including waste, extinction, toxic drug supply, racism, and colonialism.

Visit the Blackwood website for artist bios, project descriptions, installation documentation, and more!


GUT_BRAIN 1 is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the University of Toronto Mississauga, and Office of Contemporary Art Norway. Christine Shaw’s research was supported in part by a Curatorial Research Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The Blackwood
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Rd.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
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Access the Blackwood’s gallery and lightbox locations here.

Gallery Hours: Monday–Saturday, 12–5pm, Wednesdays until 8pm.

Please note: GUT_BRAIN 1 lightboxes are open to the public and accessible 24 hours a day. Some movement throughout the campus is required—ramps and curb cuts are in place.