John Gerrard brings Exercise (Dijbouti) to the Old Power Station, Oxford

By Mark Sheerin | 12 July 2012
Colour photo of an installation with bleachers and a large projection screen
John Gerrard, Exercise_Djibouti (2012). Installation shot© Stuart Whipps
Exhibition: John Gerrard – Exercise (Dijbouti) 2012, the Old Power Station, Oxford, until July 29

With opposing teams in varied colours, who perform repetitive and antagonistic movements, John Gerrard’s major new virtual simulation is plenty competitive enough for the summer of 2012. Except the Irish artist’s computer generated characters are based on US soldiers, rather than athletes.

His starting point was found documentary footage of military training in Dijbouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa. But having been rendered in CGI, these activities have as much in common with dance and sport as they do with live combat.

Gerrard’s synthetic work plays out in real time, three hours ahead of GMT. And it is programmed to last for a whole year, unfolding in a mesmerising fashion which recalls an earlier piece of epic cyber-footage: Oil Stick Work at Canary Wharf in 2010-11.

Exercise (Dijbouti) may just be the only part of the London 2012 Festival with an element of critique for a sporting festival which is beginning to suffer with a reputation for corporatism. Thanks to this brave piece in Oxford, parallels can be drawn between the spectacle of war and the spectacle of the games.

  • Open 12pm-8pm (6pm Sunday). Admission free

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