Oshawa’s waterfront has been a heated topic recently, with the placement of an ethanol refinery of particular issue to the city’s residents. It is of some well-timed coincidence that this exhibition looks at the issue of ethanol production. It is, of course, no coincidence at all: corporate intervention in nature is a global issue, internationally, as much as it is in our own backyard.
It isn’t only ethanol that is addressed here, as Prince Edward Island-based artist Gerard Beaulieu has set his sights on technological interventions that the industrial farming system has created. Raw & Cooked looks at the reconfiguration of nature, one that creates super-species, results in low (financial) cost, high-return products, and feeds a growing demand for more-for-less.
In one work, we encounter a field of corn not edible, but instead set for ethanol production. In another we experience a five foot tall rooster, which presents an aesthetic warning about genetic modification. In Drift, we’re forced to see, and process, the debris floating in our oceans (sometimes landing on our shores), through an installation of seventy-two jelly fish.
The work of Gerald Beaulieu is enmeshed in a belief that art should engage the world head-on, making a meaningful contribution for debate. In this exhibition, each work references real ecological issues; the “raw”, or sustainable, natural ecosystem, and the “cooked”, a world transformed to a machine that serves a purely corporate agenda.