Pikes, straddles, layouts and twists in Jo Longhurst's Other Spaces at Ffotogallery

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 November 2012
A photo of a young female gymnast in full flight in a room full of other gymnasts
Jo Longhurst, Suspension (1) (shot 2009, first produced 2012). Wall vinyl© Jo Longhurst
Exhibition Preview: Jo Longhurst: Other Spaces, Ffotogallery, Penarth, until January 26 2013

She’s just won The Grange Prize, the $50,000 bounty which is the largest international cash award for contemporary photography in Canada, and her exhibition references Popova and Rodchenko alongside interventions by specially-choreographed local gymnasts.

A photo of a collage of gymnast legs thrusting towards the sky during competition
Pinnacle (shot 2009, first produced 2012). 11 tessellating c-type matt prints in grey powder coated metal frames© Jo Longhurst
Building on previous work The Refusal – a study of perfect body shapes in the context of the British Whippet – Jo Longhurst is now pursuing the perfect performance, following elite gymnasts as they train and compete.

Some of the images, which are classic portraits, appropriated images and hybrids, were taken at the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships and the more obscure Heathrow Gymnastics Club, although the sculptural elements the artist affords to them are inspired by Plato and the social and political history gymnastics is linked with.

For the viewer, they allow glimpses of psychological states so fleeting they’re usually missed on first sight, from liberation and pleasure to exhaustion and despair.

Less emotive, more technical, the Perspex blocks along the gallery wall contain shots of pikes, straddles, layouts and twists, and the large-scale digital print, Suspension, finds an athlete in mid-flight.

Legs thrust upwards in a mosaic with aesthetics based on Soviet propaganda, a young gymnast warms up in Peak, and the trio of photos in Space-Force Construction set gymnasts from superpower countries within geometric structures.

All that vaulting and contorting, it seems, has a lot to do with the complexity of the human condition.

  • Open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-5pm. Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @ffotogallery.
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