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John Gerrard: Cuban School [Community 5th of October] 2010

Simon Preston Gallery
301 Broome Street, 212-431-1105
East Village / Lower East Side
November 4 - December 19, 2010
Reception: Thursday, November 4, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Simon Preston is pleased to present John Gerrard’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will comprise of a major new work, shown as a large-scale double-projection, titled Cuban School (Community 5th of October) 2010.

Cuban School (Community 5th of October) 2010 is a portrait of an existing building, situated in the countryside outside Havana. Constructed in the 1960’s to a modular Eastern Bloc design, the school is, though actively used and home to 75 school children, essentially a ‘functional ruin’, disinheriting its formal integrity through entropy and decay. The site continues the artist’s interest in modular, pre-fabricated structures, questioning their resilience and capacity to exist as potent entities once complicit resources are depleted or removed.

Working from extensive photographs and topographical satellite data, the artist and studio have hand-built a meticulous virtual world, a portrait, over which the artist has an unprecedented control. Through an unflinching camera orbit, and 365 day cycle, the viewer is encouraged to both assess the melancholic demise of a political vision, and as importantly, the extensive methods used to prolong the usefulness of its artifacts.

In a related manner to the artist’s approach in Oil Stick Work, a single actor, in this instance a portrait of a caretaker, Mariebelle Leon, is the only human presence in the work. The actor, whose motions have been carefully scanned from life, will turn on the buildings lights at dusk each day, and off again at dawn over the span of a year. Her presence determines a particular culture of mindfulness and resolve and both underlines an evolving usage of theatrical language and metaphor, as well as the artist’s continuing solar emphasis.

To coincide with the exhibition, AO&, an artist’s collective based in Vienna, have been invited to undertake a residency in a derelict storefront next to the gallery. As is their tradition, the group will spend several weeks preparing a succession of rooms to provide shelter, comfort and confidentiality for informal dialogue over a series of multi-course dinners.

John Gerrard lives and works between Vienna and Dublin. He received his BFA from the School of Fine Art and Drawing at Oxford University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Recent solo presentations of Gerrard’s work include John Gerrard: Animated Scene, a collateral project at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (2010) and Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2010). Oil Stick Work, a major long-term public projection for Art on the Underground, is currently on view at Canary Wharf underground station in London for a full solar year, until May 2011.
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