The new works shown here include classic photographic portraiture, appropriated photographs and hybrid photographic works, incorporating photographs made at Heathrow Gymnastics Club and the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, with sculptural elements inspired by Plato’s Perfect Solids and the Constructivists’ revolutionary experiments with aesthetic forms. With a long social and political history, gymnastics is often entwined with an idea of aesthetic perfection, an ideology which Longhurst questions with striking lens-based imagery that freezes movement, capturing fleeting psychological states, normally invisible to the naked eye. Longhurst’s work is an exploration of physicality, liberation, pleasure, and achievement, as well as failure, exhaustion and despair.
Featured in Other Spaces is a new version of A-Z, 215 appropriated photographs in Perspex, of the human body in action, captured in various poses and mounted on individual blocks along the gallery wall, creating a fractured installation of pikes, straddles, layouts and twists - the basic components of a gymnastics routine. Unlike Muybridge’s groundbreaking studies, which first depicted human locomotion that was too fast for the human eye to see, these photographs were made over many decades by dedicated sports photographers. The presentation of immaculate photographs of famous gymnasts performing iconic moves is undermined by a fractured repetition of similar photographs, which place the gymnasts (and photographers) within a particular cultural and political context.