“Gotland was first discovered by a man named Tjelvar. At the time, the island was so bewitched that it sank beneath the waves each day and rose again at night. This man was the first to bring fire to the island, and after, it never sank again.” Lithic Choreographies (2018), a film by the Australian artist Sam Smith, which opens with these words, is filmed on the Swedish island of Gotland, over the course of two years, and brings attention to the relationships between people, rocks and minerals. Smith attends to the island’s 200-thousand-year-old geological history and the circulation of minerals in economic, cultural as well as agricultural contexts, which shape Gotland today. The title of the artwork refers to the birth of the island during the Silurian period and its slow movement from the equator to its current location in the Baltic Sea. A dancer inhabits the landscape, firstly in subtle introspective motion and later in dialogue with a large rock. A soft human body in the embrace of the island’s layers.
Sam Smith (b. 1980, Sydney, Australia) is an artist and filmmaker currently living and working in the UK. He connects cinema, geology and architecture within film, video installation and performance work, aiming to re-imagine our modes of engagement with and contributions to material environments. His practice has been shown worldwide including International Film Festival Rotterdam; Gotland Konstmuseet, Sweden; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Moscow International Experimental Film Festival; Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris/Berlin; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; The Telfer Gallery for Glasgow International 2016; Centro de Artes Visuais, Portugal; Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London among others.