Simon Preston Gallery is delighted to present a survey of recent major simulations by John Gerrard. The exhibition includes Exercise (Djibouti) 2012, originally exhibited by Modern Art Oxford* and Infinite Freedom Exercise (near Abadan, Iran) 2011, originally exhibited by Manchester International Festival**. The show will open to the public on Friday 1st March and run until Sunday 14th April, 2013.
Installed as a site specific projection, Exercise (Djibouti) 2012 features an actual site of military exercise on a vast natural mud flat in the Horn of Africa, where two teams of athletes wearing red and blue, the traditional colors of war gaming, meet daily to run a figure of eight to the point of exhaustion. The centre of this form is the locus of a highly complex intersection for the performers, whose routine is controlled through the release of prismatic camouflage smoke canisters and develops across the calendar year.
In Infinite Freedom Exercise (near Abadan, Iran) 2011, a virtual camera circles the landscape in southern Iran, recording a figure dressed in non-nationalized army fatigues. This actor performatively mimics the prescribed gestures of mortar release in an evolving sequence, developed in collaboration with celebrated choreographer Wayne McGregor. Infinite Freedom Exercise responds to a press image of a soldier observing burning Iranian oil refineries in 1980 and is joined in the exhibition by a new related work which represents these fires.
This body of recent works, developed continuously since 2010, advances Gerrard’s realtime portraits of physical locations overlaid with reconstructed historical records. Each of the works shown, with their relentlessly changing perspectival planes, foreground the dynamic and generative nature of these particular sites of geo-strategic power.
‘… It’s important to note that in Exercise this optimisation of human power and its relation to discipline and choreographed display is explored through some of the very technologies that increasingly mediate both global warfare and global entertainment .... it is eerily recognizable, and yet it’s immediately very difficult to understand quite what kind of ‘thing’ it is, without assimilating it to some kind of aesthetic or cultural paradigm that it doesn’t quite belong to’ Robin MacKay - Oxford round table on ‘Simulation, Exercise, Operations’***
Born in Dublin in 1974, John Gerrard holds a BFA from the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, University of Oxford and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2002 the artist was awarded a Pépinières Européennes Fellowship to Ars Electronica, Linz and in 2009 was Guest Resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam.
Recent solo presentations of Gerrard’s work include: Live Fire Exercise (in collaboration with Wayne McGregor), Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London UK (2011); John Gerrard, Ivory Press, Madrid, Spain (2011); John Gerrard, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth, Australia (2011); Universal, Void, Derry, N. Ireland (2011); Sow Farm: What You See is Where You’re At / Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland (2010); Oil Stick Work, Art on the Underground, Canary Wharf Station, London, UK (2009/10); John Gerrard, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2010); Directions: John Gerrard, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, USA (2009) and John Gerrard, Animated Scene, 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy (2009).
Recent group exhibitions include: More Real, Site Santa Fe, travelling to Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA (2013); Pursuit of Perfection, South London Gallery, UK (2012); Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia (2012); BEYOND at Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia (2011); 20/20, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ireland (2011).
* commissioned by the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University Sport and Modern Art Oxford
**commissioned by Manchester International Festival. Additional support provided by Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Culture Ireland
***The premiere of Exercise (Djibouti) 2012 at the Old Power Station, Oxford was accompanied by a round table titled 'Simulation, Exercise, Operations', convened by Urbanomic and organised in association with the University of Oxford.