Trash barges Serenissima Swoon

Set against the backdrop of a contemporary city skyline, this ramshackle collection of recycled parts looks as much like a half-sunk pirate ship of pile of floating debris as it does a functional floating hobo-style home. But these trash barges are not merely a one-time installation or thrown-together art project: this collection of makeshift mobile water homes has sailed the open seas and picked up musicians, performers and other artists along its way.

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Trash barges Serenissima Swoon pirate ship
Trash barges Serenissima Swoon Switchback Sea

Swoon is known for on-land street art as well as works featured in prominent galleries around the world, but stepped from stable dry ground into the great blue unknown with a series of sustainable ships made from wood, metal and textiles scraps to float down the Mississippi River – and followed by the even larger European armada shown here (photographed by Tod Seelie).

Trash barges Serenissima Swoon at night
Trash barges Serenissima Swoon Mississippi River

“Swimming Cities of Serenissima” even brought these artistic trash barges to the Venice Biennale with a crew of 30 “artist, musicians and miscreants” in tow. The project symbolizes the freedom of radical self-reliance via DIY punk culture, which valorizes such acts as dumpster diving.

Trash barges Serenissima Swoon Venice Biennale
Trash barges Serenissima Swoon in Venice

Like a watery sibling to to the Black Rock City (the home of the annual dry-desert art and performance festival in Nevada), a significant aspect of these works is their interactivity, flexibility and the ways in which they can change over time – both by being built up structurally and acquire additional creative crew members.

Trash barges Serenissima Swoon swimming cities
Trash barges Serenissima Swoon detail

About the artist

“Caledonia Curry, known as Swoon, is a contemporary artist and filmmaker recognized around the world for her pioneering vision of public artwork.Through intimate portraits, immersive installations and multi-year community based projects, she has spent over 20 years exploring the depths of human complexity by mobilizing her artwork to fundamentally re-envision the communities we live in toward a more just and equitable world. She is best known as one of the first women Street Artists to gain international recognition in a male-dominated field, pushing the conceptual limits of the genre and paving the way for a generation of women Street Artists.”

Trash barges Serenissima Swoon projection
Trash barges Serenissima Swoon Long Island City

“Her recent work has been focused on the relationship of trauma and addiction. Through community partnerships that center compassion and the transformative power of art, Curry draws on her personal history growing up in an opioid addicted family as a catalyst for connection and healing. Over the past 10 years, she has founded and developed collaborative multi-year projects in Braddock and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Komye, Haiti, that address crises ranging from natural disasters to the opioid epidemic. “