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Grace Schwindt - Five Surfaces All White

CCA, Glasgow until October 13th
Four stars

Grace Schwindt turns things inside out in her new video installation, which flits its way across five screens arranged in a circle as a group therapy session might be. Onscreen, four figures stand, sit or dance in a field beside five similar screens. One woman looks dressed for mourning, occasionally invoking lines from what might be a eulogy or prayer, or else hanging up a piece of black material as a false window. Another woman throws shapes, while a horse stands as passively as the old man in a chair who says nothing in a way that nevertheless speaks volumes as much as his trumpet playing does.

Is this Heaven? Given the film’s roots in the work of 1970s radical German anti-psychiatrity group The Socialists Patients Collective (SPK), probably not, though in its portrait of a world conjured up by an old man’s memory that takes a leap beyond the clinical confines of a medical institution, it could be. With the film’s title and script drawn from conversations between Schwindt and her grand-father, there is a haunting personal element to the thirty-nine-minute construction, with assorted images and associations akin to the dreamscapes of Rene Magritte and other surrealist works that have broken through the canvas.

What emerges in a piece filmed at Cove Park artists residential centre is a tender and slow-burning elegy to a life of wisdom and experience that translates into a pre-death ritual homage to the power of the imagination that sired it. When one of the five screens falls towards the film’s end shortly after the piece of black cloth has been unpicked, whether by accident or design, it opens out an even bigger window to a world in which lives are never really still, but are creating landscapes you can only dream of. 

The List, September 2019.


ends

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