The interest in nature converges with concerns about questions of identity, ecology, politics and aesthetics. The environment constitutes a fertile field of inquiry for artists, who observe it, act upon it, sample it and seek to understand the changes taking place within it. The differences in the treatment of nature that we can observe in such artistic genres as landscape, still life, Land Art illustrate how human beings’ relationship with nature has changed over time, moving gradually from contemplation to interaction. While science, for its part, sometimes leads us to believe in the possibility of complete mastery over nature, the projects presented here attest not so much to a desire for domination as to a limitless curiosity with respect to the natural world.
The interest in nature converges with concerns about questions of identity, ecology, politics and aesthetics. The environment constitutes a fertile field of inquiry for artists, who observe it, act upon it, sample it and seek to understand the changes taking place within it. The differences in the treatment of nature that we can observe in such artistic genres as landscape, still life, Land Art illustrate how human beings’ relationship with nature has changed over time, moving gradually from contemplation to interaction. While science, for its part, sometimes leads us to believe in the possibility of complete mastery over nature, the projects presented here attest not so much to a desire for domination as to a limitless curiosity with respect to the natural world.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Garden installation, University of Western Ontario, London

Black and white photography, texts, plants

varied dimensions

Photo: John Tamblyn, Artist: Ron Benner
1997 - 2001
© Ron Benner


Ron Benner is interested in Western cultural imperialism, particularly with respect to trade and the agriculture industry. In 1997, he began work on a huge art project entitled Trans/mission: Vectors, in which he has tried to retrace the itinerary of edible plants originating in the Americas (corn, papaya, cocoa, pineapples, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.) that are now cultivated worldwide, and the consumption of which is rooted in dietary habits. As the artist points out, this phenomenon shows the extent to which food connects all human beings. The artist's studies take the form of “documentary gardens” like Trans/mission: Corn Vectors, which the artist accompanies with photographs and texts explaining the origins and nature of the plants he cultivates. In this way, the garden makes it possible to cast light on another type of history, namely that of agriculture.
Ron Benner is interested in Western cultural imperialism, particularly with respect to trade and the agriculture industry. In 1997, he began work on a huge art project entitled Trans/mission: Vectors, in which he has tried to retrace the itinerary of edible plants originating in the Americas (corn, papaya, cocoa, pineapples, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.) that are now cultivated worldwide, and the consumption of which is rooted in dietary habits. As the artist points out, this phenomenon shows the extent to which food connects all human beings. The artist's studies take the form of “documentary gardens” like Trans/mission: Corn Vectors, which the artist accompanies with photographs and texts explaining the origins and nature of the plants he cultivates. In this way, the garden makes it possible to cast light on another type of history, namely that of agriculture.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Trans/mission: Corn Vectors

Photo: John Tamblyn, Artist: Ron Benner
1997 - 2001
© Ron Benner


Trans/mission: Corn Vectors

Photo: John Tamblyn, Artist: Ron Benner
1997 - 2001
© Ron Benner


Trans/mission: Corn Vectors

Photo: John Tamblyn, Artist: Ron Benner
1997 - 2001
© Ron Benner


Trans/mission: Corn Vectors was originally created for a group exhibition, Foodculture, curated by Barbara Fischer at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario in 1997. The installation was maintained for four more years by replanting the maize (Purple Peruvian and Gaspe Flint) and other Native American economic plants such as chili peppers, tomatoes, marigolds and nicotiana each spring. This work was an offshoot of a much larger project Trans/mission: Vectors (1997-2004), which looked at the movement of Native American economic plants around the world, beginning with Columbus in 1492 (Caribbean to Europe) and Cabral in 1500 (Brazil to East Africa and India). Trans/mission: Corn Vectors examined the movement of a single species (maize) from the Americas to India, Vietnam and China. It is interesting to note that in Québec the word for maize is Blé d’Inde. In Italy it is called Gran Turco. I’m always both amazed and saddened by the lack of acknowledgement given to the First Nations farmers of the Americas and how their indigenous knowledge was spread throughout the world subsequent to 1492.
Trans/mission: Corn Vectors was originally created for a group exhibition, Foodculture, curated by Barbara Fischer at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario in 1997. The installation was maintained for four more years by replanting the maize (Purple Peruvian and Gaspe Flint) and other Native American economic plants such as chili peppers, tomatoes, marigolds and nicotiana each spring. This work was an offshoot of a much larger project Trans/mission: Vectors (1997-2004), which looked at the movement of Native American economic plants around the world, beginning with Columbus in 1492 (Caribbean to Europe) and Cabral in 1500 (Brazil to East Africa and India). Trans/mission: Corn Vectors examined the movement of a single species (maize) from the Americas to India, Vietnam and China. It is interesting to note that in Québec the word for maize is Blé d’Inde. In Italy it is called Gran Turco. I’m always both amazed and saddened by the lack of acknowledgement given to the First Nations farmers of the Americas and how their indigenous knowledge was spread throughout the world subsequent to 1492.

© Ron Benner

Ron Benner was born in London, Ontario, where he lives and works. After a year studying agricultural engineering at the University of Guelph, he switched to the visual arts and went on to develop a practice that combines photography, installation and gardening. An internationally known artist and social activist, he collaborates regularly with organizations involved in the defence of the environment.

selected exhibitions
2008 Trans/mission : Blé d’Inde, Axenéo7, Gatineau (Québec) 2006 Not Sheep: New Urban Enclosures and Commons, Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver (British Columbia) 2005 Paradigms of Citizenship, McIntosh Gallery, London (Ontario) 2003 Trans/mission: Vectors, Expression, Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Hyacinthe (Québec) 2002 Trans/mission: African Vectors, Oakville Galleries, Oakville (Ontario)
Ron Benner was born in London, Ontario, where he lives and works. After a year studying agricultural engineering at the University of Guelph, he switched to the visual arts and went on to develop a practice that combines photography, installation and gardening. An internationally known artist and social activist, he collaborates regularly with organizations involved in the defence of the environment.

selected exhibitions
  • 2008 Trans/mission : Blé d’Inde, Axenéo7, Gatineau (Québec)
  • 2006 Not Sheep: New Urban Enclosures and Commons, Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver (British Columbia)
  • 2005 Paradigms of Citizenship, McIntosh Gallery, London (Ontario)
  • 2003 Trans/mission: Vectors, Expression, Centre d’exposition de Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Hyacinthe (Québec)
  • 2002 Trans/mission: African Vectors, Oakville Galleries, Oakville (Ontario)

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

cultural imperialism

Designates the authority that one culture exerts over another. The term is used to denounce military, financial and media-related policies of domination designed to change the ways of life of particular nations so that they can be more thoroughly assimilated and constrained to accept the dominant culture. A close cousin of colonialism, imperialism denotes an ideology and an exercise of authority based on contempt and a feeling of superiority.
cultural imperialism

Designates the authority that one culture exerts over another. The term is used to denounce military, financial and media-related policies of domination designed to change the ways of life of particular nations so that they can be more thoroughly assimilated and constrained to accept the dominant culture. A close cousin of colonialism, imperialism denotes an ideology and an exercise of authority based on contempt and a feeling of superiority.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate an understanding of how science and art can be linked;
  • try to explain the state of mind of the artist when he made this art piece.

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