Bob & Roberta Smith's Art on the Underground project launches on Central Line for Olympics

By Richard Moss | 11 May 2012
a photo of a couple of people in period dress prancing about a field
© Art on the Underground
The thousands of customers and visitors to the Olympics squeezing through the corridors and commuter trains of the Central Line are to be baffled, entertained and educated this summer by the latest offering from Transport for London’s Art on the Underground programme.

Who is Community? is a new artwork by Bob and Roberta Smith and Tim Newton consisting of a film and a series of paintings for Stratford Underground station. Both muse on the nature of human interaction and wellbeing – subjects that must flick across the minds of the four million commuters who use the Tube daily.
a photo of two men in camel coats and bowler hats on a platform
© Art on the Underground
The paintings will be on display for customers to enjoy at Stratford station from May 15, and the film can already be downloaded using a smart phone via a QR code on posters advertising this new project across the Tube network.

“I want to explore why public space, like the Underground, and public celebrations, like the Olympics, are romantic, exciting and important to democratic life,” says Smith. “Who is Community? makes a serious point about how to understand 'publicness' in a joyful, optimistic and playful way.”

The film returns to Bob & Roberta Smith’s favourite subject of imagined meetings between great figures from history – in this case the German philosopher Hannah Arendt and the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin.
Song and dance routines, moustache twiddling, bowler hat wearing and countless absurdist situations deal with issues about freedom being public, associative and participatory – all of it played out amidst the art deco backdrop of the Underground or beneath Anish Kapoor's Arcelor Mittal Orbit.
From May 15, life-size cut-outs of characters from the film will be popping up around the Stratford neighbourhood. Paintings that tell the story of the film will also be hung in the station as a series of large, painted posters.

Watch the film below:

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