Art exhibition in Cork explores importance that gut function and the food we eat have on our mental well-being

Art exhibition in Cork explores importance that gut function and the food we eat have on our mental well-being

A painting made of Nutella might seem like strange thing to hang in an art gallery, but artists respond instinctively to the world around them and the exhibition Gut Instinct brings together artworks that give tasty, if unusual, form to the ground-breaking ideas, at he new art exhibition at The Glucksman, UCC.

It has employed ground-breaking research at the University’s APC Microbiome Institute into how our state of gut affects our state of mind.

“In Neuroscience and Medicine, we’re conditioned to think of only what is happening above the neck in terms of the regulation of our emotions.

“This is changing. Ground-breaking research, including that being carried out in the APC Microbiome Institute in UCC, is literally turning this concept upside down,” said John Cryan, Professor and Chair, Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC.

“We’re beginning to fully realise the importance that gut function and the food we eat have on our mental well-being. Gut Instinct is a very novel collaboration, which challenges us to think differently about how we respond emotionally at a sensory and visceral level and reminds us that our state of gut will affect our state of mind,” Professor Cryan added.

In Marina Abramovic’s film The Onion, the artist eats a raw onion while her voice-over repeats a series of complaints, offering an unflinching portrayal of her discomfort and disgust.

Visitors will encounter a vast, painted field of densely-textured Nutella spread in Thomas Rentmeister’s Untitled, the sheer amount of inedible sweetness both enticing and revolting.

Food serves not simply as a means of sustenance, but also to encourage conversation, communication and conviviality, and in Fiona Hallinan’s installation, plate-like platforms are suspended by cords and pulleys to creative an interactive site that serves as both a sculptural arrangement and a space for public events.

The emotional attachments we have for particular brands and comfort foods is explored in Neil Shawcross’ paintings, from tins of soup to bottles of ketchup.

The connection between the state of gut and the state of mind is captured in artworks that blur the distinctions between mind and body. In Siobhan McGibbon’s sculptures, pristine white legs emerge from enlarged organs while her drawings – seen through medical-like viewing devices – depict microbes fusing with simplified human forms.

The exhibition runs until March 19 next year.