On show at Mostyn, Wales’ leading gallery of contemporary art, is an engaging body of work titled Other Spaces by artist Jo Longhurst. Developed from a selection of sketches and studies made when visiting the Heathrow Gymnastic Club and the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, and by pulling Plato’s Perfect Solids and Popova & Rodchenko’s experimentations with aesthetic form as her well of inspiration, the rich and timely project takes sport as its subject.
In the manner born of many contemporary photographers, Longhurst has attempted to expand or explode the parameters of photography by experimenting with more sculptural displays, in turn fusing a mixture of analogue and digital lens-based processes, performance and installation. With the experience of actually being a former gymnast herself, Longhurst brings to question the ideas of human perfection in her work and highlights the emotional and physical strains this sport has on the lives of elite gymnasts as well as the pleasure and exhilaration of the activity it elicits.
Our very own, Jenna Banat, 1000 Words Editorial intern, attended the 2012 Olympic Gymnastic qualifying rounds in London and witnessed rhythm and aesthetic perfection right alongside painful and embarrassingly messy dismounts first hand. This project, however, shows the sport of gymnastics in a new light. Longhurst set out to “explore the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts through classic portraiture, appropriated photographs, performance and installation.” She manages to capture the athletes’ psychological states during high-speed moves, portraying, for example, a gymnast in mid-flight, perfectly composed, in a state of tranquillity.
To accompany the exhibition, Other Spaces, Ffotogallery in partnership with Mostyn have published a book comprising 128 pages, with an essay by Sara Knelman and an interview with Charlotte Cotton, the launch for which will take place on 26 August 2012 at Mostyn gallery.
This exhibition runs until 30 September 2012, and at Ffotogallery, Cardiff, from October to December 2012.