Announcing 2020 Middlebrook Prize Exhibition

We are excited to announce the 2020 Middlebrook Prize Exhibition, “Grounding” opens this month at Art Gallery of Guelph. Curated by Maya Wilson-Sanchez, the exhibition features artists Warren Cariou (Métis and European), Ximena Garrido-Lecca (Peruvian), Dana Prieto (Argentine) and Tsēmā (Tahltan).

Grounding includes artwork made from the ground – work that uses as its material basis the same valuable natural resources that drive world economies. Taking a hemispheric approach, the exhibition presents nuanced practices of art-making that respond to extractive industries in the Americas, and more specifically within Canada, Peru, and Argentina. From Warren Cariou’s photographs made with bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to smells created by Dana Prieto to resemble the scent of contaminated soil from mining in Argentina, a number of works in the exhibition use materials wrought by extractivism to bring focus to the lives of those who inhabit places where extractivist practices occur. Artworks also suggest how extravism and visuality are intimately connected, engaging with the aesthetics of seduction that drives capitalist consumption. Prieto’s installation and Tsēmā’s photographs of obsidian both play with shiny, glossy, and luxurious surfaces that are reminiscent of display techniques.

Other works propose a relationship to extractivist materials beyond that of capital accumulation, colonial value systems, and environmental destruction. Tsēmā’s work, for example, consists of melted Canadian pennies, highlighting copper as a material with a complex history by examining its value and use within both Tahltan and colonial Canadian contexts. Ximena Garrido-Lecca’s work also engages copper, a material mined excessively in Peru and widely used in smartphones and electrical wiring. Exploring how the metal is currently perceived as a material of progress, the artist queries how to change or expand our view of copper as a naturally occurring material used in a myriad of ancestral Andean practices.

Grounding will run 

Thursday 17 September until Sunday 13 December, 2020

Free. All welcome

Art Gallery of Guelph 358 Gordon Street Guelph, ON

Image detail: Tsēmā, Emergence 9, 2020, digital print on acrylic, 20 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist.