Observations: Caledonia Curry's slow boat to Venice

Charlotte Philby
Sunday 23 October 2011 05:27

For those who didn't catch Caledonia Curry's (aka Swoon's) less than conventional entrance at this year's Venice Biennale in a fleet of ships, a trip to London's Black Rat Gallery this week was a chance to see her life-size figurative woodcuts, made of scrap wood and rubbish from skips, which usually inhabit her cityscape installations. Curry, 31, a multidisciplinary artist, rocked up to Venice with her 30-strong crew in a small fleet of boats, each 20ft high and wide, and crafted from bed sheets, car parts and scrap metal. Onlookers rubbed their eyes in disbelief as she emerged from the horizon quite unannounced.

As part of her ongoing project Swimming Cities, she guided her men on a 60-mile journey across the Adriatic which started at the coast of Slovenia; together they spent two months navigating their way to Italy.

This was the fourth instalment of Swimming Cities. The maiden voyage took place in 2006, when Curry and a few friends spent the summer sailing 800 miles down the Mississippi River on a boat again fashioned from rubbish. Curry believes strongly in "the transformative power of seeing something you never before believed could ever possibly exist".

For her next instalment, Curry is setting up an art-based community in an abandoned church in Pennsylvania. "I'm creating an art-based community at Braddock", Curry explains. "We will use urban farming and experimental technologies as a means to address some of the problems of our ecological crisis and the factors that led to the post-industrial collapse that led to this town being left to rot." The whys and wherefores of how this will work in practice, Curry says, are still yet to reveal themselves. But when they do, she'll be sure to let us know.

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