If you’ve been wondering what all those massive artworks around Stratford Station and round about (see last post) are to do with here’s the answer…
Who is Community? is a new commission by artist Bob and Roberta Smith and Director Tim Newton, as part of the Central line series. Smith and Newton have made a new film that tells the story of an extraordinary fictional meeting between the father of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, and the German theorist, Hannah Arendt. In the film, Arendt and Coubertin meet on the Central line and fall in love. The film is told from the perspective of the community of Stratford and draws upon the cinematic style of silent comedies.
Who is Community? explores themes of public space, social interaction and well-being, as well as the democratic values that Coubertin hoped to advance through sport, and the revival of the ancient Olympic games. Arendt is known for her ideas on freedom as something that is constructed in the community, when its members bring their uniqueness to a shared space. In bringing the characters together, Smith and Newton suggest a synergy between the ideas of Coubertin and Arendt.
Alongside the film, Who is Community? includes a number of large artworks on display in Stratford Underground station. Originally painted by Bob and Roberta Smith, they include characters from the film and explore ideas brought to light in the project. Painted cut-out figures of characters in the film will also appear at the following cultural venues in Stratford: Stratford Picturehouse, Rosetta Art Centre, The Nunnery, Stratford Circus and Theatre Royal Stratford East.