Simon Gush


15 October - 7 November 2009

Simon Gush's first major solo exhibition, Sidestep, travels to Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg, from Michael Stevenson in Cape Town with the addition of a new work and several variations.

Gush's core concern in this exhibition is the manner in which both high culture and personal political identities are formed by cultural traditions and structures. All the works on the show will consider the relationship between their subject matter and the dominant culture which, in the artist's perception, has to be constantly renegotiated and reformed.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a video of a five-a-side soccer match played on railway tracks, titled In the Company of. The work was filmed in Belgium, where Gush currently resides, and the two teams were largely made up of immigrants to that country, as is the case with so many European soccer teams. Here the players must continuously adapt to the unusual circumstances of a terrain full of obstacles. According to Gush:

The idea underlying this body of work is that antagonisms cannot be overcome or solved and we therefore need to find ways through which they can be continuously renegotiated. This piece is about two teams constantly renegotiating and reforming themselves in relation to each other and the playing surface of railway tracks. The game has a result - that is, a winner - but not necessarily a conclusion.
A related work is Underfoot (Vooruit), a video of a performance in Ghent in which two dancers perform the Lindy Hop on a floor covered in Coca-Cola. The work was inspired by a little-known event in the 1950s when an American basketball team, scheduled to play in a ballroom in Germany, found the floor too slippery and decided to cover it with Coca-Cola to make it sticky. This work, Gush suggests, looks at the process of ongoing negotiation that takes place when different cultures come into contact and interact. This does not resolve over time or reach a conclusion but is subject to continuous re-evaluation.

A subtheme in these works considers how art and culture might contribute to or challenge the existing cultural ideology. This idea is extended in a work titled Later Than Before which will entail the gallery staying open for an hour longer three days a week for the duration of the show. Here Gush reflects on the implications of market-friendly liberal democracy for the dissemination of art, especially in a country like South Africa, where commercial galleries have de facto taken on an almost institutional role, and regular gallery hours exclude a large part of the potential audience.

The exhibition will also include text works, sculptural installations and further interventions in the gallery.

Born in 1981, Gush graduated with a BA(FA) from the University of Witwatersrand in 2003, and in 2008 completed his postgraduate studies at the Hoger Instituut van Schone Kunsten in Ghent, Belgium. In 2007 he exhibited at Michael Stevenson as part of the side gallery series, and held collaborative exhibitions with Dorothee Kreutzfeldt in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Recent group exhibitions include the Luleå Summer Biennial, Sweden (2009); Die Keuze van Koen van den Broek at Indian Caps, Antwerp (2009); Self/Not-self at Brodie/Stevenson (2009); Test Patterns: Recent video work from South Africa at San Francisco Camerawork, San Francisco (2009); and .za: giovane arte dal Sudafrica at Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena (2008).

The exhibition will open on Thursday 15 October, 6-8pm. For the duration of this show, the gallery is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10.30am to 5.30pm, Thursday and Friday, 10.30am to 6.30pm, and Saturday from 9.30am to 4pm.