Ron Benner: Your Disease Our Delicacy (cuitlacoche)
Summer 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015
Curated by Su-Ying Lee
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery is pleased to present a major, interdisciplinary project titled Cuitlacoche. Designed to raise awareness, the three-part program will address production practices and their environmental impacts, the intervention of biotechnologies, trade and economic policies, and the distribution of wealth, among a number of key issues.
Cuitlacoche begins with an artist residency and garden installation titled Your Disease Our Delicacy (cuitlacoche) by internationally renowned, London (ON)-based artist Ron Benner. Benner’s research into agriculture—its interface with bioengineering, patenting world food heritage, capitalization of bio-diversity in the context of colonial and Indigenous histories, and contemporary politics—spans over 35 years.
Invited to undertake a five-month residency beginning in May 2012, Benner is growing a garden of purple Peruvian corn and indigenous flowers and vegetables in collaboration with the Hart House Farm Committee in the Hart House Farm Plot on the southwest corner of Hart House near Queen’s Park Circle. Your Disease Our Delicacy (cuitlacoche) involves encouraging the growth of cuitlacoche, a pathogenic plant fungus that forms on corn and is commonly known as Mexican ‘corn smut.’ Viewed as both a disease and a delicacy, cuitlacoche serves as an apt metaphor for the many oppositional positions surrounding food production and consumption. Continuing over the cultivation and growing season through to harvest and beyond, parallel public events will include a series of dinners and informative discussions that address contentious aspects of food production across the three University of Toronto campuses, to create broader awareness of the political implications of the food we eat. All events and activities will be open and accessible to the University of Toronto community as well as the wider public.
Presented as part of the Jackman Humanities Institute’s 2012-2013 Program for the Arts on the theme of food.