Botannica Tirannica

Award-winning Brazilian artist Giselle Beiguelman explores how common botanical names both mirror and perpetuate societal prejudices against racial, cultural, gender, and social groups.

Type of Exhibition: Art

Koffler Arts is proud to present Botannica Tirannica by award-winning Brazilian artist Giselle Beiguelman. The exhibition explores how common botanical names both mirror and perpetuate societal prejudices against racial, cultural, gender, and social groups. Beiguelman was inspired to create this exhibition after receiving a gift of a Tradescantia zebrina seedling, commonly called “Wandering Jew”, a name referencing the 13th-century myth that recurred in Nazi propaganda. This led Beiguelman to investigate the complex, interwoven histories of botany, taxonomy and colonialism that often result in discrimination against specific groups of people.


Beiguelman will work closely with two Indigenous experts to situate the exhibition in a Canadian context: Dr. Jonathan Ferrier, a Mississauga, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) scientist and a Biology professor at Dalhousie University, and Isaac Crosby, a Black/Ojibwa knowledge keeper, gardener and agriculture expert. Dr. Jonathan Ferrier will act as Indigenous botanical content lead and collaborate with Beiguelman on a display of living plants each with prejudicial names. Isaac Crosby will create The Garden of Resilience outside the exhibition in front of the Youngplace building on Shaw Street. It will include various plant species – considered to be invasive “weeds”. These weeds, which usually don’t grow together, are a metaphor for human migration.

Alongside the display of plants, visitors to the gallery will engage with two series of images created using Artificial Intelligence (AI) – one series of still images, the other series in video – of reimagined hybrid plants that are positioned as resistant and resilient life forms in a post-natural, decolonialized garden. The exhibition will also include a soundscape by São Paulo-based composer, visual artist, and researcher Gabriel Francisco Lemos.

“Giselle Beiguelman has created an exceptionally thoughtful – and beautiful – exhibition, where scholarly research fuses with great artistic vision. We’re delighted that Dr. Jonathan Ferrier and Isaac Crosby are working with Giselle and know that together this team will create an unforgettable exhibition.” – Matthew Jocelyn, General Director, Koffler Arts.

Botannica Tirannica originated at the Museu Judaico de São Paulo, Brazil (2022), curated by Ilana Feldman, and has since been exhibited in whole or in part at the 3rd Karachi Biennale in Pakistan (2022); Museo Sartorio in Trieste, Italy (2023); and Sesc Taubaté, São Paulo, Brazil (2023). Koffler Arts is the exclusive North American host.

Media Contact: Laura Chapnick-Klein, | Koffler Arts, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto ON, M6J 2W5

Presented by:

A Kultura Collective Member

In partnership with

Museu Judaico de São Paulo, Brazil

Start Date:

May 30, 2024

End Date:

October 20, 2024

Wed – Sun, 12-5 PM

Downtown Toronto

Youngplace, 180 Shaw St., #104-105


If accessibility options not listed, please contact the venue to confirm


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