Jo Longhurst first came to prominence with The Refusal, a body of work for which she spent a number of years photographing Whippets, British show dogs bred to ideal standards. This captivating examination of physical perfection led to her most recent series, Other Spaces, which explores the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts. With Other Spaces, she expands her practice to include appropriated images, performance, and sculptural elements, creating wallworks that encourage us to examine how photographs are used as teaching tools and vehicles of aspiration. The owner of two Whippets and a former gymnast herself, Jo’s work asks questions about how ideas of perfection shape personal and national identities, and social and political systems.
Working from original and appropriated images of elite gymnasts, Jo combines photography, sculpture, performance, and installation in Other Spaces, an examination of the ways that athletes often become representative of nations, ideologies, and ideas of perfection.
The Refusal is a body of work featuring images of Whippet show dogs. To create these works, Jo spent several years working with top breeders, photographing the dogs by bloodline. Fascinated by the breeders’ obsessive quest for the perfect specimen, Jo draws a connection between the construction of human identity and the act of shaping the ideal dog.
The Grange Prize 2012 Exhibition
A selection of Jo Longhurst’s work is on view until January 6, 2013, as part of The Grange Prize 2012 Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada.
Jo Longhurst was born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1962. She studied Russian politics at the University of Leeds, then photography and multimedia at the University of Westminster. In 2008, she obtained her degree at the Royal College of Art and rapidly acquired an international renown. Her works have been exhibited extensively across the UK and Europe, including solo shows in England, France, Germany and Poland.