Sandy Gibbs

The swimmer and the spy (2017)

2 min 22 secSingle channel / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

"In my quest to track down the original swimmers from the 1968 swimming final at the Mexico Olympics, nowhere could I find any trace of the two former-East German swimmers, Marianne Seydel and Sabine Steinbach. Drawing upon conceptual art strategies in part inspired by artists Sophie Calle and Vito Acconci, I hired a German private eye in a failed attempt to locate them and hopefully to connect us. 

However, although he was successful, under German privacy laws he was unable to give me their details, and neither of the two women opted to make contact with me. Instead, this culminated in my visit to the swimming pool in Chemnitz, Germany, where Marianne Seydel and Sabine Steinbach trained for the 1968 Olympics under the watchful eye of their Stasi coaches.

Vicariously inserting myself into their stories, I swam in this pool with a heightened awareness of the biopolitics, power, and ideologies that still permeate the space."

—Artist's statement

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