Abattoir U.S.A.!

The Power Plant, Toronto

Aria Dean, Abattoir, U.S.A.!, 2023. Installation view: Abattoir, U.S.A.!, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, 2023. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

This fall, The Power Plant in Toronto will host a solo exhibition of ARIA DEAN’s latest moving-image work, Abattoir, U.S.A.!, on view from October 13, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

Drawing from her long-term research on agricultural and industrial architecture, Dean presents a new film surveying the interior of an American slaughterhouse. The work considers the importance of these structures in the development of modernist architecture and urban design, influencing the work of a generation of European architects such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. The omission of the slaughterhouse, or abattoir, from this narrative leads to questions about the relationship between modernism and death, as Dean engages with one such site and its entanglements with fundamental questions of humanity.

Installed at The Power Plant, the work has particular potency, set against the backdrop of Toronto’s industrial history along the waterfront. The Power Plant was originally constructed in 1926 as a powerhouse for the massive cold storage warehouse facility next door. Corporate and municipal abattoirs were located nearby, and the city was previously nicknamed “hogtown” for its large-scale industrial landscape. Projecting the form of the slaughterhouse into a virtual space, Abattoir, U.S.A.! ultimately explores how meaning is produced through moving images, working across material, symbolic, and technological registers.


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