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03 2012

Catching up with Jo Longhurst, winner of The Grange Prize 2012

Syndicated from: AGO Art Matters

Jo Longhurst (foreground) preparing to shoot at Gemini Gymnastics, Oshawa, Ont. Only a few days after learning she had won The Grange Prize 2012, Jo Longhurst began her six-week residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, occupying the Anne Lind Artist-in-Residence Studio in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre. Over the three weeks since the winner announcement, Jo has been working to develop new ideas and create new works. During her residency, Jo will build upon her series Other Spaces, which is an examination of the notion of perfection framed through the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts. She has been working closely with Gemini Gymnastics in Oshawa, owned by Elena Davydova, the 1980 Olympic all-around gold medallist, representing the former Soviet Union, and one of the coaches of the Canadian Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team at the 2012 London Olympics. Jo’s new work will explore examples of the gender divide inherent in the world of gymnastics, such as particular moves that female gymnasts can’t use in competitions like Iron Cross on the rings. (Jo has photographed a female gymnast holding this pose.) She is developing two specific works with Davydova and the club’s elite squad. Jo accepts The Grange Prize on Nov. 1, 2012. Jo has been contemplating what direction her work might take beyond her residency: “I continue to revisit my archive of images from the World Championships and have begun to look at them from a more abstract perspective,” Jo says about her future work. “The new work will be visually different but follows the same line of inquiry into the ideas of perfection, photograph, and the ways in which we makes sense of our place in the universe.” Jo says that her win was a complete surprise — but a gratifying one. “The win was touching because it was a public vote,” Jo says. “I want my work to be critical, yet accessible to everyone.” When it comes to photography, Jo admits that although her work is primarily lens-based, she feels that medium-specific categories can sometimes be frustrating, and she hopes that “the categorization doesn’t limit people’s exposure to art.” In addition to the artist residency, Jo received a $50,000 cash prize. The three other finalists each received cash honorariums of $5,000 and international artist residencies. British artist Jason Evans will travel to Toronto next spring to begin his residency at the AGO, and Canadian artists Emmanuelle Léonard and Annie MacDonell will travel to the U.K. next year. The winner of The Grange Prize 2011, Indian photographer Gauri Gill, spent 3 weeks at the AGO in September of last year, researching and creating new work. Read more about Jo’s work and see images of works from her Other Spaces series here. Her residency continues until December 14, 2012. Jo will be in conversation with Sophie Hackett, assistant curator of photography at the AGO and lead juror of The Grange Prize 2012, at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2012, at the AGO, as part of the next installment of the AGO’s 1st Thursdays.

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