The Blackwood Gallery at University of Toronto Mississauga presented GUT_BRAIN, an exhibition series inspired by the primary movements of the digestive system: ingestion, propulsion, mechanical breakdown, chemical digestion, absorption, and elimination.


Staged in six movements in sites between Mississauga, Canada and Oaxaca, Mexico, the project will move from injury to potential, from separation to symbiosis, from damage to possible futures.


As earth’s metabolic rhythms have been made to converge with anthropocentric needs and desires, the nutrient cycling process has been disrupted, leading to environmental catastrophe. Human bodies-minds are mirroring what is happening in nature: environmental devastation is reflected in human’s diminishing microbiomes, creating an epidemic of inflammatory diseases. Human remain mirrors of the natural world: or rather, of the modified versions that we created as a specie.

Part of the devastation is related to the 20th Century war against bacteria and microbes for which antibiotics and pesticides were invented, a mission intrinsically linked to colonialism’s desire to modernize, valorize, and purify. In this context, our condition is currently that of ‘posthumans’: forever chemicals, pesticides, plastics are part of our bodies now as much as of our ecosystems. How can we conceive of possible futures considering the inevitable and lethal fusion of the technosphere and the biosphere? How are artists imagining epistemological breaks towards possible futures?

Connecting artists, scholars, and activists from across the Americas and beyond, GUT_BRAIN acknowledges injurious forms of interdependency and imagines desiring differently: micro and planetary eroticism, making kin, holistic health, community-organized stewardship, and an erasure of the categorical distinctions between humans, animals, systems, seeds, plants, bodies of water, and bacteria.


The first movement, Destructive Desires and Other Destinies of Excess, materializes at the mouth. As a site of ingestion, sexuality, sustenance, and language, the mouth tracks the origins and symptoms of injurious forms of interdependency that have led to a toxic world. This two-part movement focuses on artists who recognize that modern technologies at the center of a project of future worldmaking are linked to destructive desires, toxic masculinity, feminicide, dependency on fossil fuels, land dispossession, chemical contamination, wasted and remaindered populations, and the colonial technosphere to sustain life. Other destinies of excess will be taken up in part two of GUT_BRAIN 1.

Participating artists: Mónica Arreola, Adrián Balseca, Rebecca Belmore, Miguel Calderón, Tania Candiani, Patricia Domínguez, Gauri Gill, Regina José Galindo, Tala Madani, Dafna Maimon, Marisa Morán Jahn, Yoshua Okón, Daniela Ortiz, Teresa Serrano, Joseph Tisiga, Laureana Toledo with Irma Pineda, Couzyn van Heuvelen, Miguel Ventura, Alberta Whittle, and Lorena Wolffer with Kira Sosa Wolffer.

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