At Dinner

The second part of this week’s Culture Digest looking at performative meals: an evening of operatics with Grace Schwindt

Curator Rose Lejeune opened Gallery Lejeune in the spare room of her South London apartment in 2015, as a innovative way of thinking about new ways to exhibit, collect and commission ephemeral and performance-based works.

One Thursday evening at the end of October, I arrived at the gallery in the dark – literally and figuratively – for At Dinner, an intriguing-sounding event hosted by Lejeune with the artist Grace Schwindt, which promised to involve food, text, language and sound. Inside, a small gathering of collectors, curators, artists and friends hovered in the hallway, shuffling past one another in search of the source of the haunting notes that filled the apartment. In the gallery space at the end of the corridor, the opera singer Lisa Cassidy stood immobile in a long, hooded Lady Guinevere-style robe, angled slightly towards a metal bird perched on the windowsill. The dress, made by Schwindt, had been overprinted with text – the words of a script by the artist that guests were later invited to recite out loud, by turns, as we gathered around the dinner table.

This additional participatory requirement is significant in the context of Schwindt’s long-standing interest in group dynamics and individual agency. Her best-known work to date, the film Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society (2015), explores the potential of the collective to both enable and circumscribe individual action. (It was hard, here, not to read Cassidy’s performance, motionless in her text-wrapped dress and singing to a bird, as relating to cages.) At Dinner was, on a micro-level, an experiment in community building – of the kind that happens all the time in daily life and which, in another context or another industry, might be called networking. Here, though, Schwindt’s intervention made me acutely sensitive of the extent to which we invariably perform ourselves socially, according to cultural norms of which we may or may not always be aware.

Amy Sherlock is deputy editor of frieze and is based in London.

Most Read

The argument that ancestral connection offers a natural grasp of the complex histories and aesthetics of African art is...
Ahead of the 52nd edition of Art Cologne, your guide to the best shows to see in the city
‘I'm interested in the voice as author, as witness, as conduit, as ventriloquist’ – the artist speaks...
In further news: a report shows significant class divide in the arts; and Helen Cammock wins Max Mara art prize
A genre more associated with painting, an interest in the environment grounds a number of recent artists’ films 
A new report suggests that women, people from working-class backgrounds and BAME workers all face significant...
The divisive director out after less than six months by mutual consent
In further news: Gillian Ayres (1930-2018); Met appoints Max Hollein as director; Cannes announces official selection
With miart in town, the best art to see across the city – from ghostly apparitions to the many performances across the...
From Grave of the Fireflies to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the visionary director grounded fantasy with...
In further news: art dealer and Warhol friend killed in Trump Tower fire; UK arts organizations’s gender pay gap...
Emin threatened ‘to punch her lights out’, she claimed in a recent interview
As the Man Booker Prize debates whether to nix US writers, the ‘homogenized future’ some novelists fear for British...
‘Very often, the answer to why not would be: because you’re a girl’ – for this series, writer Fran Lebowitz speaks...
The artist is also planning a glass fountain of herself spouting her own blood
‘The difficulties are those which remain invisible’: for a new series, writer and curator Andrianna Campbell speaks...
With ‘David Bowie Is’ at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Glenn Adamson on the evolution of the music video – a genre Bowie...
Under a metahistorical guise, the filmmaking duo enact hidden tyrannies of the contemporary age
The area’s development boom isn’t just in luxury property – the art scene is determined to keep its place too
In further news: Laura Owens’s 356 Mission space closes; John Baldessari guest-stars in The Simpsons
With his fourth plinth commission unveiled in London, the artist talks archaeological magic tricks and ...
When dealing with abuse in the art industry, is it possible to separate the noun ‘work’ from the verb?

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

January - February 2018

frieze magazine

March 2018

frieze magazine

April 2018