Swoon Sets Sail

Looks like the Swimming Cities of Serenissima has finally left Slovenia and started on the way to Venice. Swoon’s latest boat project is her 3rd, and the first outside of the United States. The homemade boats will carry a team of artists to Venice just in time for the Biennale (and if the timing works out, I’ll be there to see them arrive).

Maria, one of the rafts
Maria, one of the rafts
The Route
The Route

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Swoon on “The Swimming Cities of Serenissima”

Arrested Motion has an interview with Swoon about her latest boat project, “The Swimming Cities of Serenissima”, which will launch this May. Swoon and her team will launch their homemade crafts from Slovenia and travel all the way to Venice just in time for The Venice Biennale. With any luck, I’ll be in Venice for their arrival, so I’ll be blogging and twitter that, but in the mean time, Arrested Motion is where it is at. Here’s a short excerpt from their interview with Swoon:

AM: Are there any particular themes or issues that you’re looking to explore with this journey?

Swoon: There are many, but just to pull out a thread, I have always felt that these boats are an expression of joy and wonder, while at the same time being a map of anxiety.

We are making a cabinet of wonders by collecting things we find along the way: seeds, bones, flowers, stories – all manner of things. This impulse is about observing, collecting and sharing beautiful things in the world around us, but there is also an element of the impulse to preserve these things and to pack your whole life onto a couple of hand-made rafts and set sail, which is about the feeling that the way we are living is coming apart at the seams, is destroying the world around us and will not last. These boats are not to be taken as a literal solution, but in the way that art distills a language from our imaginations and creates images that speak to us above and below the level of our spoken language, we are addressing these issues in our form.

Read the rest at Arrested Motion.

Phillips de Pury Results

Just a quick run through of Saturday’s Phillips de Pury auction results (all prices include buyer’s premium).

  • Herakut’s canvas for the War Child charity went for £3750.
  • Only one Paul Insect piece managed, to sell (a print at £375).
  • Seen was quite strong, with a large painting on subway maps selling for £4000.
  • Out of 2 prints and 1 original by BAST, only one print sold and it was at below estimate (and that original was really nice in person, even if it isn’t his typical style).
  • None of the Faile prints or originals sold.
  • Nick Walker’s Moona Lisa, which was estimated at £7-9000, sold for £18,750. Seems like a bit of a fluke though, as the rest of Walker’s work was within the estimate.
  • The Swoon on Mylar was withdrawn
  • Finally, as I anticipated, the two Os Gêmeos giant head boxes sold for more than the estimate of £4-6000, but they sold A LOT more: £18125 including the premium.

For the full results a pdf can be downloaded here.

Phillips Update: Swoon Piece Withdrawn

Looks like lot 393 at tomorrow’s Phillips de Pury auction may have been withdrawn, as the Phillips’ website has removed the lot’s estimate within the past few hours. That lot number is the beautiful Swoon on Mylar that everybody has been talking about. The work had been listed with an extremely low estimate of only £2,000-£3,000 and no reserve. Can you say 11th hour? I guess we’ll know for sure tomorrow though.


Phillips de Pury Auction – My 3 Picks

UPDATE: The Swoon mentioned in this post may have been withdrawn from the auction.

Tomorrow afternoon is the Phillips de Pury Saturday Sale. Along with toys, watches, and contemporary art, this auction has a good deal of street art. I went to the opening of this show on Tuesday, and while it maybe be the best urban art auction I’ve seen ever seen in London and there are only a handful of pieces that should not be there, three items really stood out for me.

Lot 170
You Sure?, 2009
Spraypaint, acrylic and charcoal on canvas.  100 x 100 cm. (39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in.)
Estimate: £3,000-4,000
My thoughts – There are three great Herakut paintings on display at Phillips (plus two “in progress” works). This is the only one that will be sold at the auction. It is being sold to raise money for War Child, a charity helping children in conflict areas. It’s a very powerful piece, and contains a good amount of work from but Hera and Akut.

Lot 392
Os Gêmeos
Two works: Untitled (Head Box), 2005
Mixed media on wooden construction.  123.2 x 124.5 x 124.5 cm. (48 1/2 x 49 x 49 in.)
Estimate: £4,000-6,000
My thoughts – Who doesn’t love Os Gêmeos? Like many of their sculptures, these have been decorated inside and out, and viewers can stick their own heads up a hole at the bottom of the pieces to see the insides. Almost like two works in one. These giant heads are in the no-reserve section with an unbelieveably low estimate. For comparison, this canvas from the Dreweatts Urban Art Auction in October 2008 sold for £24,000. Surely most people would rather have these heads than a canvas. Of course, displaying them could be a nightmare, and they will in all likelihood end up in storage until they are put in a museum (which is where they belong).

Lot 393

, 2005
Hand-painted linoleum print on mylar.  Installation dimensions variable.
My thoughts – Another highly underestimated item in the auction’s no-reserve section. I can’t even imagine this going for £3,000. As usual, Swoon’s work is beautiful, but the 3D installation aspect of this piece makes it unique. It might be hard to see from this photograph, but many of the birds are on separate pieces of mylar and are meant to be floating varying depths away from the way. This could be the deal of the decade.

What do you think? See any other particularly special pieces up for sale tomorrow? Leave a comment or shoot me an email (rj (a-t) vandalog.com).

Swoon Original Charity Raffle

Swoon Raffle

Swoon needs our help funding her latest Swimming Cities project, so she’s organized a raffle. I’ll definitely be buying a ticket (or two), and hope you will too.

From Black Rat Press and Swoon:

When we first worked with Swoon in 2007 she spoke vaguely of wanting to do a project in Venice involving floating cities – 2 years on and this ambitious project is taking shape. This project requires some assistance and as a part of the fundraising Swoon will be raffling a really beautiful work on wood. Tickets are $30 each and you got to be in it to win it. More details below about the project and the raffle. Buy one – make a hippy happy.

The Swimming Cities of Serenissima is a fleet of three intricately hand-crafted vessels that will navigate the Adriatic Sea from the Karst region of Slovenia to Venice, Italy in May of 2009. Designed by the artist SWOON, the floating sculptures are descendants of the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea (Hudson River, 2008) and the Miss Rockaway Armada (Mississippi River, 2006 and 2007). The Swimming Cities of Serenissima are built from salvaged materials, including modified Mercedes car motors with long-tail propellers. For Swimming Cities, SWOON will collaborate with 30 artists from the United States, including OBIE award-winning playwright Lisa D’Amour. As the Swimming Cities move toward Venice, the crew will collect and install keepsakes in an ark-like cabinet of wonders that will be on display on the boats when they arrive. Once in Venice, the boats and crew will offer intimate performances that incorporate music, shadow puppetry, and story. The project is produced with the assistance of Deitch Projects, Paper Monster, Black Rat Press, Build It Green, and a thousand other people.

Letter from SWOON:

Last year, with a team of about 75 friends, crew, and collaborators, I built a flotilla of rafts out of salvaged bits of New York City. Our precarious floating home traveled 140 miles south along the Hudson River. What left as the refuse of the city’s mega construction returned as six vessels trying to encompass a whole world (the seventh died along the way).

This year, with some of those same vessels, and some new, we begin the second leg of our journey. Our destination? It’s the city whose outrageous countenance, rising straight up out of the ocean like that was a fine sort of thing for a city to do, was our original inspiration. Yes ma’am, we’re headed across the Adriatic Sea toward our first love, Venice.

This year we are a crew of 35, all artists, musicians, crackerjack mechanics, and folks who specialize in big, impossible, ridiculous dreams. We will put on a performance and cobble together a cabinet of wonders. We will, in our form, be working on themes of recycling and reuse, considering the footprint of a human community on the planet, and on issues of climate change. We have not found a solution to floods and sinking cities or where to go next, but we know that it’s important to us to create art and community at the same time as we seek a different relationship to our world.

We are starting in the Karst region of Slovenia (a former forest barren to this day after its large trees were cut for pilings in Venice), and skirting the northern coast of the Adriatic. For fun and a little mischief, we will be crashing the Venice Biennale.

Since we are doing all of this in an otherwise collapsed economy we need lots of help. It’s a big project that we are trying to fund with the help of many small contributions from people who would like to be involved and help us get these crafts afloat — even if you just think we’re cheeky and want to see if we’ll sink. This raffle is just one of the many ways we’re trying to get back on the water.


For information contact Heather Jones at hmacionus@gmail.com

Benefit Raffle for Swimming Cities of Serenissima

To enter the raffle, purchase a ticket by going to www.swimmingcities.org and clicking on the RAFFLE button. Buy more tickets to increase your chances of winning. If we sell 100 tickets and you buy one, you’ll have a one percent chance of winning — if you buy 10, you’ll have a 10 percent chance. When your purchase is approved you’ll get a confirmation number. We’ll announce the winner on March 26.

Good lucky everybody!

Swoon Sails Adriatic in May

Photo by shoehorn99
Photo by shoehorn99

Looks about time for a weekend trip to Venice.

From The Art Collectors Blog:

Swoon is in the planning and fundraising stages for her next ambitious aquatic art project. Building upon Miss Rockaway Armad and Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, the next installment of the artist’s floating armada is taking shape and is set to launch in May of 2009.  Comprised of a fleet of three new handmade vessels, The Swimming Cities of Serenissima will hit European waters and navigate the Adriatic Sea, Beginning in the Karst region of Slovenia, the ships will make their way to the final destination of Venice, Italy, stopping along the way to entertain audiences. Once again, Swoon will be joined by a crew of collaborators, including playwright Lisa D’Amour, puppeteer Robin Frohart and the band Dark Dark Dark.

If you’re not familiar with Swoon’s boat projects, this video, teaser footage from a film shot during her last trip, may help you understand the project, or it may confuse you even more. Either way, FLOOD looks like it is going to be a pretty cool film.

For more information on the trip and the upcoming fundraisers in New York and New Orleans, check out the project website.

Swoon Print For Charity

Those familiar with Swoon may know about her work in Braddock, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Basically, she’s working to revitalize the area through art. It’s a great project headquartered here. Well anyway, Swoon released a print on Just Seeds recently to raise money for rebuilding a church that is being taking over by artists in Braddock. Alden is a great image (I’ve got two versions of it), and this looks really great. The print is only $400, which seems low for an edition of 55. Why not support a great cause and get a beautiful piece of artwork in the process? (Sorry if this all sounds a bit like an advert, but I really think that these things that Swoon does for charity are great)