John Hansard Gallery ‘The Shepherd’s Whistle’ by Stefan Gec
9 March 2019
16 February 2019 - 27 April 2019
The Shepherd’s Whistle centres around the artist’s fascination with top-secret maps of strategic cities worldwide that were created by Soviet intelligence during the Cold War, alongside an M-72 Soviet army motorbike and sidecar from 1957. These two highly symbolic elements are brought together to create a complex project that explores the socio-political environment of the Cold War era, whilst also touching on current issues of identity, migration and immigration. Riding the M-72 motorbike and navigating using the Soviet maps, Gec has made a number of journeys to five UK towns and cities that were identified by the Soviets as having strategic importance. The starting point for all of these journeys has been Gec’s hometown of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. For The Shepherd’s Whistle, Gec presents a number of newly-made works, including text and sculpture, shown alongside the film footage made in each location, examples of the Soviet maps and his M-72 motorbike. The Shepherd’s Whistle builds on Gec’s previous works and thematic concerns, however, for the first time Gec will actively engage as a performer - the journey serves as a reflection on his artistic practice. The chosen locations retrace previous projects that explored similar themes: 'Trace Elements' (1990), 'Detached Bell Tower' (1995-96) and Buoy (1996-present). Alongside the physical experience of revisiting these places, the films help mark the legacy of this research activity in each location.
The Shepherd’s Whistle has been commissioned by John Hansard Gallery in partnership with Locus+, and is supported by Arts Council England.
Image: Stefan Gec, M-72 motorcycle and sidecar. Courtesy the artist