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 solace of Boris Charmatz’s danse de nuit in light of the Manchester atrocity
Colin Siyuan Chinnery considers the development of China’s non-profit sector and its relationship with the...
Raven Row, London, UK
Mat Collishaw Thresholds at Somerset House 2017. Courtesy Graham Carlow
Mat Collishaw’s virtual-reality tribute to photo pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot suggests what VR can learn from early...
Two Baltic cities with compact, open-minded and active art scenes
Stanley Brouwn has died, aged 81; a new triennial of contemporary art for Uptown Manhattan
WIELS, Brussels, Belgium
At home in the gallery
Q: What do you wish you knew? A: All that I don’t, of course!
On Alan Clarke’s Rita, Sue and Bob Too, the death of Ian Brady, and what laughter might conceal
Celebrating its 70th anniversary, a preview of some of the highlights of this year’s festival which opens today
Ahead of Paris Gallery Weekend, a round-up of the best shows to see in the French capital
A stroll through the off-site shows
Tate Britain, London, UK
A first look at ‘Viva Arte Viva’ at the Arsenale
With the sad news of the death of Stanley Brouwn, aged 81, revisiting this feature on the elusive artist, first...

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

March 2017

frieze magazine

April 2017

frieze magazine

May 2017