Deitch Studios, 4-40 44th Drive, Long Island City, Queens
In the early evening on Sunday, September 7, 2008, seven handmade boats—or, more precisely, seven floating sculptures—docked in front of Deitch Studios on the East River in Long Island City. Their arrival at Deitch Studios was the final stop on a three-week journey down the Hudson River and around the tip of Manhattan. The seven boats, built by Swoon and her friends from scrap wood and other discarded materials, began their sail down the Hudson River on August 15 in Troy, New York, stopping along the way for musical and theatrical performances. Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea was a two-part exhibition merging Swoon’s recent portraits, found objects of urban decay, and a floating sculptural city. One part of the exhibition was on the water, and the other was in the gallery.
As the seven boats docked in front of Deitch Studios, they were tethered by ropes to the skirts of a twenty-five-foot-high paper sculpture of two sisters embracing, the central image of the indoor portion of the show. The image of the Switchback Sisters came to Swoon in a dream in 2006, when she was worried about the rising waters while her first set of boats was floating down the Mississippi River. She envisioned a woman who would gather the boats into a safe haven under her skirts.
Swoon’s indoor installation, in the large cathedral-like space of Deitch Studios, was divided into two levels, above and below an imaginary flood line. She imagined that if the water of the East River were to rise, her boats could float into the shelter of the gallery space. The imagery on the walls was drawn from the sea and from the mangrove swamps that the artist explored in her Florida youth. She was inspired by the way the trees in the mangrove swamps send out huge networks of roots, both below and above the water, creating two parallel ecosystems. Above the imaginary waterline, Swoon created the image of a city rising from the sea. The parallel narratives of the exhibition represented a convergence of her life on the river and her life as a street artist in New York.
Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea was the result of a year of design and construction and the combined efforts of seventy-five collaborators, working under Swoon’s direction. A crew of forty people sailed the seven boats down the Hudson. During the summer of 2006, Swoon and the Miss Rockaway Armada launched a similar project on the Mississippi River. For the 2008 project, Swoon designed and supervised the construction of all the boats herself and culminated the journey with an ambitious exhibition of her large wooden and paper constructions and her large-scale prints.
Swoon’s collaborators on Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea included playwright Lisa D’Amour, circus composer Sxip Shirey, Kinetic Steam Works from San Francisco, and the band Dark Dark Dark. Performances took place as the boats docked during their journey down the Hudson River in August and in front of Deitch Studios during the second week of September.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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