Grace Schwindt – Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society (4 stars)

Grace Schwindt – Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society

Artist explores the volatile history of Germany in the 1960s and 70s through richly-layered film

It's significant that a curtain of rainbow-coloured strips form the entrance to Tramway 5 for the looped screening of German-born artist Grace Schwindt's feature-length film dissecting the ideological legacy of post-Second World War Germany's strand of left-wing activism. It not only suggests an element of pageantry to the choreographed spectacle it unveils, but offers up a set of multi-hued futures beyond the black, white and red of old idealism.

Utilising eleven dancers and filmed over five weeks in a walled set transplanted onto parkland with the bright lights of the city just beyond, Schwindt weaves together choreography, social history and an interview with a taxi driver activist influenced by Germany's volatile 1960s and 1970s history. What she creates is a multi-layered performance that questions notions of freedom on both an individual and collective basis.

Seemingly hemmed into the room, the dancers recite the taxi driver's text as they move, carefully enunciating every word, be it solo, in duos or creating a chorale as they stand apart or else move in unison. Rich in symbolism, at moments we see glimpses beyond the fourth wall as the white lands of a motorway separate the stage areas. At times this makes for a dialectical show and tell, with the taxi driver's narrative of Baader-Meinhoff and the Red Army Faction offset by everyday reality and given a Brechtian distance by the abstract formality of the performers.

Commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through London Artists' Moving Image Network, Eastside Projects and The Showroom in association with a myriad of international partners including Tramway, Schwindt's film is a deadly serious fusion of suitably disparate elements in which walls of all kinds come tumbling down as they have to.

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