Grace Schwindt at Site Gallery: Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society

Polly Checkland Harding

One of our Cultural Calendar top picks for 2015, this new film and installation at Site Gallery interrogates ideas around freedom.

It’s an unusual way to see in the New Year: for its opening exhibition of 2015, Site Gallery has co-commissioned a film that explores the radical left wing politics of Germany in the 1960s-70s. German born and London-based artist, Grace Schwindt has used a telephone interview with a former taxi driver and activist as the basis for this new work, titled Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society.

In the feature-length film, the cab driver’s memories of student years influenced by far left political groups are interwoven with performances by eleven dancers, all within a minimalist, theatrical setting. Sets for the film were positioned on a hill overlooking London, where large photographic prints depicting cityscapes, rural landscapes and domestic scenes acted as the backdrop to choreographed dance sequences.

A stripped-back, striking looking exhibition that queries our ideas about freedom

It’s a stripped-back, striking film that queries our ideas about freedom, delving into the ways they have developed and changed over the decades. Displayed in the neighbouring gallery space is a new ceramic work by Schwindt; on the top of a glass plinth sits a delicate porcelain vase at the point of near-collapse. The film and the sculpture together create a provocative pairing, not only visually arresting but also focusing on questions that remain vital in the 21st century – particularly given this week’s harrowing events in France – what does freedom mean, and is still possible to achieve?

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