The “Swimming Cities of Serenissima” is a fleet of three intricately hand crafted vessels that will navigate the Adriatic Sea from Koper (Slovenia) to Venice (Italy) in May 2009. Designed by the visual artist Swoon, the floating sculptures are descendants of the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea (Hudson River) and the Miss Rockaway Armada (Mississippi River, 2006 and 2007).

Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea

Photo by Tod Seelie

Swoon’s boats are inspired by dense urban cityscapes and thickly intertwined mangrove swamps from her Florida youth. The “Swimming Cities of Serenissima” are created entirely from salvaged materials and are propelled by modified Mercedes motors. The boats’ crew is made up of 30 collaborating artists from the United States.

As the Swimming Cities move toward Venice, the crew will collect and install eclectic objects in an ark-like cabinet of wonders which 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 vessels are imagined as a hybrid between boats and bits of land broken off and headed out to sea. Watching them approach the shore is like seeing a floating city in the distance, as improbable as Venice itself. To the real life crew, the boats are a place of refuge – both a home and a way of moving through the world. To those who encounter the boats for the first time, they are a reminder that anything that can be imagined can be built.

The Swimming Cities are designed and organized by printmaker and installation artist Swoon. Collaborators include playwright Lisa D’Amour, puppeteer Robin Frohart and the band Dark Dark Dark. Boat design and carpentry created in close collaboration with Jeff Stark, Iris Lasson, and with guidance from The Floating Neutrinos. Motors are designed by “Chicken” John Rinaldi. Artists and organizers collaborating include: A’yen Tran, Anton Berteaux, Adina Bier, Arielle Bier, Ben Burke, Ben Mortimer, Connie Hockaday, Conrad Carlson, Ryan Doyle, Greg Henderson, Hana, Harrison, Heather Jones, Irina, Jonathan Kaiser, Marshall Lacount, Matt Clark, Moses Grubb, Nona Marie Invie, Orien McNeill, Paul Cesewski, Porter Fox, Robin Frohardt, Robyn Hasty, Spy Emerson, Tianna Kennedy, Tod Seelie, Todd Chandler, Tony Bones, V Dougherty. The project is produced with the assistance of Deitch Projects, Paper Monster, Black Rat Press and Build It Green.


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