The Thomas Dane Gallery in London presents an exhibition of new work by John Gerrard from 2009. Sow Farm (near Libby, Oklahoma) depicts a particular instance of animal factory farming facilitated by a large computer-controlled complex devoid of human presence. Lufkin (near Hugo, Colorado) presents an oil derrick in action. Like related previous works such as Animated Scene, Sow Farm and Lufkin acknowledge the artificial and detrimental ways we manipulate the environment. Effectively set in the visually bare plains of middle America, Gerrard underscores the alarming depletion of natural resources that supports our culture of consumption.
Gerrard’s technique is as compelling as his subject matter is relevant. The artist builds upon traditions of painting, photography, cinema and sculpture while actually working with the video game technology Realtime 3D. Like many contemporary artists working in complex new media, Gerrard develops the creative concept behind each work while relying upon specialists to help realize it. The artist photographs each site from a complete 360 degree radius. His production team in Vienna, led by long time collaborator and producer Werner Poetzelberger, then completes the work – turning the artist’s photographic stills into continuous, animated cinematic panning shots. Complex details are accurately replicated at each site by 3D modeling, which is guided by topographical and satellite data. It typically takes a few years to replicate each site over a particular period of actual time – showing changes in light, weather and season.
The end result – a subdued hyperrealism – hardly points to the immense efforts of its creation. Sow Farm (near Libby, Oklahoma) and Lufkin (near Hugo, Colorado) are shown throughout an entire 365 day year. The work’s projection on a large-scale screen engulfs the viewer in a calm and contemplative viewing experience well suited to serious subject matter.
John Gerrard is represented by the Thomas Dane Gallery in London as well as the Simon Preston Gallery in New York City. Gerrard lives and works in Dublin, Ireland – where he was born – and Vienna, Austria. He received his BFA in Sculpture at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing at the University of Oxford in 1997. He earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000 and an MSc from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland in 2001.
Following Daily Serving coverage of John Gerrard in February of 2009, Gerrard presented Animated Scene as a collateral project at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Currently, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden houses the artist’s exhibition, Directions, which will remain through 31 May 2010. In late March 2010, Gerrard’s public projection, Oil Stick Work, will open at the Canary Wharf underground station in London as part of London’s Art on the Underground Programme.
John Gerrard’s exhibition at the Thomas Dane Gallery – his first in London – opens 3 February and remains through 6 March 2010.