In The Agony of Power Baudrillard asserts that the demise of the radical left in 1968 can be situated in a double refusal to be dominated or to dominate through power structures. The desire for autonomy from the bonding of a life in the production of capital, fractured into a bricolage of ideologies that saw the traditional modes of resistance transmute into the spectacle of violent acts by political agencies such as the Red Army Faction in Western Germany. Grace Schwindt’s film installation ‘Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society’ explores a life of a citizen invested in consistent self questioning of how power structures can be dismantled, through use of non-linear elements: the gallery, an interview, the screen, stage, the geometry of dance, the camera, are all utilised as abstract matter that layer, interconnect, become unstable and reform. Word, gesture and material all carry equal weight, working to expose moments of collectivity, rhetoric and collapse.
Walk through the gaiety of a mass of silk ribbons that divide Eastside Projects as gallery and cinema, and you enter a disconnected space in which a recital of an interview pervades the gallery while the screening loops for an audience. The interview recounts the lived experiences of a left wing activist who now works as a taxi driver, whose legacy of involvement with the Outer Parliamentary Opposition have made him a witness to a history of political transformation in which the desire for a free socialist state ossified into acts of terrorism and eventually parliamentary politics. Through focusing on an individual life, the toll that a lifelong refusal to participate in the creation of capital takes on the body is set together with the exploration of the potential for a freer society, the possibility of which is inferred in both historical and present contexts as the taxi drives from the country to the edge of the city.
The film is aware of its boundaries, the camera becomes an eye that moves around the dancers, creating moments of repetition that underline the score. Shifting between the landscape indicated beyond the set and the geometry of the interior. A dancer throws a glass of water through a window, and the set erupts in a monsoon of glitter. A figure lies face down on the floor, sound continues at points in which the screen cuts to blankness. A movement made by one dancer, becomes a communal movement. As Baader Meinhoff is mentioned an orange sculpture appears as an explosion. The spectre of a suited industrialist emerges as a giant only to collapse into two dancers. Pantomime horses dance around the set, a wall collapses as the dancers move away from it. The interview is recounted dispassionately, at once by women then by men, it is stated in unison as the words become symbols that activate and still movement.
In their dissolution notice in 1998 The Red Army Faction state The revolution says: I was I am I will be again, is there still the intoxicating potential for a freer space? Is it one that resides in the memory or one in which we create in the present. The driver stops his taxi on the hills, observing how The city is almost beautiful, a lone dancer pulls a city towards a car (a set of boxes that tumble as they move). The set exposes a landscape, and just as the child witnesses the dismantling of their parents’ ideals they realise the potential for something newer to evolve.