Temple Bar Gallery & Studios is pleased to present a two person exhibition by John Gerrard and Joy Gerrard. Both John and Joy have been connected with Temple Bar Gallery and Studios in the past: Joy presented ‘The Crowd Transfixed’, work in progress in Studio 6 (then a project space) in November 2003 while John was awarded a one year project studio at TBG&S in 2006. Both artists maintain separate art practices. While their careers are independent, as siblings they have always taken a strong and supportive interest in each others work. For the curator who has observed their respective trajectories it is clear that what connects this work is its engagement with important global issues. The validation for this dual presentation is the artists mutual concern with the environmental and the political and with the boundaries and limits of human control. Artistically, this translates into strong impactful imagery, resonant with the atmosphere of an impending force or event.
Crowds have formed an ongoing thematic focus in the work of Joy Gerrard. In the expansive drawing Protest Crowd 3, urban space functions as a frame or container for ‘the crowd’, shifting from a secure shared space to a fragile site of contestation and potential violence. In imaging the crowd both figuratively and abstractly Joy Gerrard questions the limitations of power and the transformative potential of mass gatherings and multitudes. With the image magnified by the colossal scale of this drawing the artist and audience together perform a type of surveillance, viewing the action from a distance and a fixed perspective rather then from the subjective experience of being part of the crowd . The act of visually describing a multiplicity, particularly one that is politicized, becomes an act of artistic witnessing and by extension, of vicarious participation in the event.
Presented in real-time 3D, John Gerrard’s Dust Storm (Manter Kansas 2007) appears at first glance to animate the swirling mass rendered static in the drawing opposite. Here the protagonist is not human but a natural force, an ominous black cloud hovering over the great plains of Kansas. Dust Storm was first shown in the Marian Goodman gallery in New York in Summer 2007. As Joseph R. Wolin noted in his critique of the piece for Modern Painters ‘the work’s panoramic view comes from photographs the artist shot on location while the image of the storm derives from 1930’s archival photos of the Dust Bowl, a disaster resulting from the confluence of cyclical drought and the reckless expansion of agricultural activity made possible by fossil fuel powered farm equipment’. In a curious but effective contemporary take on the original Dust Bowl Gerrard has also integrated footage from a video of a dust storm in Anbar Province in Iraq taken by an American soldier. The mistakes of history are not mitigated by their repetition…
Shades of the sublime may be applied both to the exhibition and how it is experienced but this is the Gerrards’ achievment; to transform material that is both layered and laden and in such a way that it engages and provokes.
John Gerrard lives and works in Dublin and Vienna, Austria. He has exhibited widely, both in Ireland and abroad. Recent exhibitions include ‘Equal That is to the Real Itself’ at the Marian Goodman Gallery New York in 2007, Hilger Contemporary, Vienna, Austria in 2007, and a solo show at The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin in 2006. He has been the recipient of various awards and residencies, including the Siemens Residency at the Ars Electronica Furure Lab in Linz in 2004 and an Arts Council residency in Banff, Canada in 2005. Gerrard is represented by Hiliger Contemporary Gallery, Vienna
Joy Gerrard is based in London and Dublin. She has completed several public commissions in Ireland and the UK and is currently working on a major sculptural commission for the London School of Economics, curated by the Contemporary Art Society, London. She received funding form the Arts Council and Dublin Corporation to complete an MPhil. research project at the RCA London in 2007. She has most recently been short-listed for the AIB Award; Ireland’s most prestigious art prize. Recent group exhibitions include the Great Exhibition at the Royal College of Art, London and Ubu gallery, Glasgow in 2007