Way to the mind is via your gut

mind via gut
Fiona Kearney, Director, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork and John Cryan, Professor & Chair, Dept. of Anatomy & Neuroscience, with a huge Nutella painting which is amongst some of the bizarre/ visually striking artworks in the new exhibition Gut Instinct at The Glucksman.
Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Cork scientists try to find whether gut instinct is real

A new art exhibition at University College Cork has undertaken groundbreaking research to show how the state of our gut effects our state of mind.

Gut Instinct, hosted by the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, examines how what we see in terms of digestion impacts on how we feel.

John Cryan, Professor and Chair, Anatomy and Neuroscience at UCC, explained how the new research has transformed the way scientists view the gutbrain relationship.

“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,” he said “We’re beginning to fully realise the importance that gut function and the food we eat have on our mental wellbeing.

“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.”

One example at the exhibition is a vast, painted field of densely-textured Nutella spread in Thomas Rentmeister’s Untitled. Here, the sheer amount of inedible sweetness is both enticing and revolting to those who encounter it.

“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 of John Cryan and his colleagues at APC,” Fiona Kearney, Director at the Glucksman, said.

Another example is Marina Abramovic’s film The Onion. Here the artist eats a raw onion while her voice-over repeats a series of complaints, offering an unflinching portrayal of her discomfort and disgust. In a similar fashion, Domestic Godless introduce participants to strange – and often repulsive-sounding – new recipes, while their installation, which includes custom-made toothpastes and suppositories, explores notions of disgust and digestion.

“The Irish and international artists selected for the exhibition remind us of just how much how our emotions are linked to our gut, as our scientists are proving in the relationship between mind and microbiome,” Ms Kearney explained.


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