The Gotland Art Museum presents, in collaboration with the Baltic Art Center and International Art Space, the exhibition Lithic Choreographies, by the Australian artist Sam Smith (b.1980).
Sam Smith began his practice working with sculpture and video. Linking these disciplines, his interest in the three dimensional is evident in his work as sites and buildings are treated as living organisms with their character and histories expressed through their materials. This is also the case with Lithic Choreographies, a new experimental documentary, recorded on Gotland, where the island plays the lead while the humans have been given the supporting role.
The title of the film, as well as the exhibition, alludes to the creation of Gotland in the earth´s Silurian Period, and its subsequent slow movement from the equator to its current position in the Baltic Sea. Past, present and future timescales interact via documentary footage and animation as the film examines the island’s geological layers through facts, speculative sciences and fiction. By focussing the camera lens on the landmass’ stony beaches, concrete industry and lime stone quarries, the film charts cycles of stone in economic, cultural and agrarian contexts. The relationship between humans and nature is addressed as well as current discussions regarding the use of the earth’s resources.
The film is constructed from material recorded by Sam Smith while in residence at the Baltic Art Center in Visby. During two periods in 2017 and 2018 the artist travelled around Gotland meeting key people and specialists to learn about the island’s local communities. The artist filmed scenes at Brucebo Artist House, Suderbyn Permaculture Ecovillage, Uppsala University Campus Gotland, the Museum of Gotland collection and the concrete manufacturer Cementa, as well as many outdoor locations. The artist worked without a script, as a form of participant observer, choosing to follow a number of people in their daily work as they acted without direction
The exhibition continues outside the central film, by installing objects taken from the film in the exhibition space, alongside new photographic, text and videoworks. The presentation plays with what could be considered real or fictional, true or false, historical facts or artistic expression. For Smith’s world, these categories and the hierarchies between them are blurred, instead a combination of them are proposed as a possible strategy for survival.