“Swimming Cities, From Spy’s
,” Juxtapoz Art & Culture
, December 21, 2009.
“Pankabestia!” is what the Italian villagers
called us when we floated into town on our junk rafts. It
translates to "punk beasts,” and by all accounts we
were -- magical, grubby, unruly creatures carrying out an
enchanted mythical scene, looking every bit like
disintegrated drifting dreams.
When we floated into the rural canals on the outskirts of
Venice the townspeople were apprehensive. They locked their
doors and windows when we stopped and they watched. The
beauty of the rafts was captivating however -- the poetic
pilings and forced perspectives, stairs spiraling upward
into the sky, the tiny pagodas with twinkling corrugated
reflections. First the brave came to look… then the
curious, and before long all the locals were welcoming us
with gifts and food. In a remote fishing village a woman
told me in broken English that we "kissed a breath of life"
into her old home and that we will not soon be forgotten.
The Swimming Cities of
was Living Art, designed by SWOON, and
executed by 30 individual artists known for their
abilities to make unreal things happen. Constructed
was a reality without right angles, standard rules did
not apply there. The rafts --Alice, Maria, and Old
Hickory-- were the protagonists of our story, and our
traveling homes. Living on the rafts, the crew became
a visual part of the large moving sculptures and
participants in the mad drama flourishing in
turbulence, primal urges, euphoria and fear.
In retrospect, I see that we were
punk beasts. We
raided dumpsters, slept on the ground, shat in the woods
and laughed in the rain. We let loose our social restraints
and were free to create and experience something profound,
to drag our fingertips along the undersides of bridges and
jump the fences of the Venice Biennale.
Photos by JoAnna Black
Photos by Adam