John Gerrard’s Animated Scene opened to the public on June 4th, 2009. This project was organised by RHA Projects and was a collateral event at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.
Held in a boathouse on the island of Certosa, Animated Scene consisted of three Realtime 3D projections that document the agri-industrial landscapes of the Great Plains of America. Gerrard creates virtual scenes, entirely fabricated by the artist and his studio in the medium of Realtime, projected on a large scale to produce evidence of a nitrogen and oil based system, dehumanizing and existing on the outer limits of what is environmentally possible or even plausible. The project’s title refers to the position that these damaged sites occupy with the realm of power, politics and society, parallel worlds that function as memorials to, and manifestations of, our oil based society.
The site of Animated Scene is the wooded and richly historical island of Certosa. It was originally home to an order of Augustinian monks, who developed the island’s gardens and orchards. The island then was occupied by Napoleon, who used the island to store art works removed from Venice, prior to their shipment to Paris for exhibition in the Louvre. It remained under military control, used to manufacture and store explosives. In 2004, the island’s restoration began and is now used for recreation and boat building.
The island’s original twelfth century cloister was the venue for a special event to mark the opening of Animated Scene. Over 100 guests attended the dinner, exquisitely lit by beeswax candles creating an alternate world to the frenetic pace of the Biennale. The menu was designed by Slow Food Venice, using locally sourced ingredients, including a honey that came from flowers that are periodically submerged by the lagoon tides.
John Gerrard first exhibited with the RHA in Eurojet Futures in 2004, then in 2006 with a solo exhibition, Dark Portraits. Recent exhibitions include Equal, That Is, to the Real Itself at Marion Goodman Gallery, New York and Academia at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. Gerrard is currently on residency at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam and working towards an exhibition at the Hirshhorn in Washington. The exhibition was curated by Jasper Sharp, an independent curator, and Patrick T. Murphy, Director of the RHA.
RHA Projects is an initiative of the RHA that brings Irish art to international audiences, including the Irish pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennale and Singing the Real at the National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, 2007.
This project was funded by Culture Ireland and a network of private supporters. With special thanks to the Richard J. Massey Foundation for Arts and Sciences and The Ireland Fund. For more information see, www.johngerrard-venice.com