Swoon Invades Venice


While we’re on the subject of the Venice Biennale, New York Magazine has an interesting article about the artist Swoon and her latest project, The Swimming Cities of Serenissima: a fleet of boats made from New York City trash, which they have (by now) sailed from Slovenia and navigated into the canals of Venice.

To quote from the opening:

Swoon and her group are emissaries from a specific underground culture: the bike-riding, Dumpster-diving, anarchist street-art movement that has flourished in Bushwick, Greenpoint, and areas near the Gowanus Canal over the past decade. On this trip, she’s joined by a few artists from the Black Label Bike Club, an anarchist bicycle-art group, including Greg Henderson and Ryan Doyle, a six-foot-six sculptor who builds machines that crush cars for rock festivals like Coachella and Amsterdam’s Robodock gathering. There are also some gearheads from San Francisco, including “Chicken” John Rinaldi, the original guitarist for GG Allin’s band and, more recently, co-sponsor of a (failed) proposition to rename a Bay Area sewage-treatment plant after George W. Bush. For them, scrounging is a kind of religion, and the boats are an embodiment of that aesthetic. They’re not interested in expensive green technologies or recycling programs—the point is reuse, to breathe new life into the city’s detritus and build a new, separate world from those remains. “We’re not perfect,” Swoon says. “How much jet fuel was used to fly all of us here? But we’re not going to let being imperfect stop us. If you are too rigid in your ethics, you undo positive action.”

The rest of the article describes the process of gathering trash and the construction of the boats, and includes a profile of Swoon, with a run-down of her career to date.

[via Scott Beale]

Jeremy Hatch is a writer, musician, and professional bookseller leading a cheerful, aimless life in San Francisco. He is the Junior Literary Editor of the Rumpus and has a blog which he updates once in a while. More from this author →