Simon Pope : A Common Third

Simon Pope A Common Third
Photography: Sarah Cullen

15 January - 28 February 2010

A Common Third is Simon Pope’s first solo show in London and continues his ongoing investigation of walking as an analogue to, and actual process of, being together. In this new work, the artist walks with invited guests in various locations, unfamiliar to either. Through a process of negotiation, they decide upon which route to take, sometimes using a map, but often gauging which way forward most appropriately matches their ability or interest. In turn, each decision is moderated by the weather, familiarity with similar terrains or the ‘lay-of-the-land’, producing new landscapes from their interaction with land and its conditions.
As is the case in several of Pope's recent works, these negotiations are returned to at a later date, with artist and walker entering into another mode: that of recollection and reflection on the many decisions that were made along the way. An audio recording captures descriptions of their way across the terrain. For the exhibition we will hear their attempts to describe those views at moments when significant route-finding decisions were made.
In these descriptions we hear echoes of the Picturesque, long since passed into common-sense and which now frame what we see when walking in hills and mountains. Through its dialogic form, these conventions are placed in proximity to a contemporary preoccupation with sociality, acknowledging the ‘being together through walking together’ which lies at the heart of historical Romantic practices. Also explored is the particular, popular cultural practice of walking, peculiar to a local context - namely the negotiation not only of terrain, but of law, cultural practice and tradition, through which walking in upland Great Britain is constrained and which marks a striking contrast with the expectation of unconstrained movement, the seeds of which were sown by Thoreau’s exclamation, ‘to the west I walk free’ and which are commonplace elsewhere. Pope talks about these works as investigations into models of being together, proposing step-by-step, shoulder-to-shoulder negotiation of each other. As a landscape art practice, this work is also shaped by geographical discourse, proposing a reconsideration of the scopic in relation to the everyday practices through which we engage with the land.

Simon Pope (Exeter, UK. 1966) lives in London. Recent solo-exhibitions include Carved From Memory at Spacex, Exeter (2009) and Memory Marathon (2009), produced by Film & Video Umbrella and commissioned by ODA, ACE and the LDA. He represented Wales at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and is Reader in Fine Art and Programme Director of the MFA programme at Cardiff School of Art & Design.

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