Monday, August 25, 2008

Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, Beacon

My photos of the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, Beacon NY performance (nothing to rival the times, but there you have it). Crowded and much better. The float is going well.

Playwright Lisa D'Amour

Nona Marie Invie, of Dark Dark Dark

My friend and Coordinator of the float Vanessa Anspaugh

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea

(somehow I forgot my camera) so Photo: Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Last Friday, a group of artists set off on a voyage down the Hudson on makeshift boats built from recycled materials.
I had the good fortune of traveling up to Troy, New York, the site of the build, to deliver forgotten lighting equipment to my friend Ava Berkofsky. Ava is a cinematographer working on a film by Todd Chandler titled FLOOD.

Ava's stills (just above) are here
The film is based loosely around a few characters on the float (members of the band, Dark Dark Dark).

The project, “Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea” was developed by street artist Swoon, as a floating communal artwork to begin in Troy and to end at the Dietch Projects in Long Island City, Queens.The project is in collaboration with musician Sxip Shirey, showman Chicken John Rinaldi, artist collective Kinetic Steam Works, the band Dark Dark Dark and playwright Lisa D’Amour.

As I arrived on site, I became immediately aware of the incredible amount of work involved in such an endeavor. The long yard of a gutted house was teaming with people moving in every direction, piling scraps, making lunch (which, at one point consisted of chocolate pudding with rice), or readying the eccentric looking boats (there are 7) for the long journey.

The river stunk in that dank, muddy, rotten, comforting way a river has of stinking.
I tried to stay out of the way, sitting in the grass, picking apart pistachios and reading William Gass’s In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, a strangely appropriate book in its disturbing American landscapes and rumbling bucolic language.

One thing I could not help but notice, was how obvious everyone was in their "hobo-hipster-hippie-chic" outfits and hairdos i.e. seemingly filthy makeshift clothes, mismatching stripped tights and whatnot, long beards, dirty boots, sleeveless earthy T’s and interesting head scarves. What is meant to look apocalyptic ends up looking a little too much like an elaborate add for Urban Outfitters or the future aesthetic for Gap clothing.
Truthfully, I more or less fit right in.

The sun went down and the generators sputtered on lighting the boats as people gathered to rehearse the performance, which is scheduled to occur in several towns along the river.
I sat with my friends on folding chairs killing mosquitoes as Ms. D’Amour announced directions through a megaphone.

The play itself is a curious circus of maritime monologues about the end of things as we know them and the communal lives of the river people as told from differing perspectives. It has the stark allegory of Lord of the Flies, the whimsical characters of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan and the sometimes-gritty reality of Herzog’s Aguirre the Wrath of God (mostly in that, they really are traveling down a river on rafts of junk).
The play may be a bit monologue heavy but the music keeps it interesting.

This weekend I will be meeting up with the crew again further down the river in Beacon New York, to take photos of my own.


My heart goes out to Jillian Pena, and all of my friends who are with her now. Jillian was struck by a car last week in Brooklyn. She is now showing wonderful signs of response and movement. [New York Post article and daily updates on her recovery].

Beautiful to think that her work is also made up of response and movement.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Travels by Jordan Stempleman

The Travels
Jordan Stempleman
60 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9804541-5-4
Otoliths 2008
$10.00 + p&h

A rewriting of The Voyages & Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Knight

A book taken and returned and taken again
from Sir John Mandeville; of darkened artifacts
and incipient wonders; and of the sadness left
from passing through actual and imaginative sights

from The Travels


Of Saint John the Evangelist; and of Hippocrates’ daughter,turned into the shape of a dragon

If it was really told
what Hippocrates’s daughter most resembled
we would kiss without variability the arrangement
of her skin’s latest draft

the one face again smoothed
from the choked flaps of scales

that as a gift
plans the undersides
of our impossible surface


Of several names of the Sultans; of their estate;
and of the Tower of Babylon

get rid of your thinking and in return
you will stay here forever

there will no longer be the tired size
from the stories again

the too various to include
where you are now

where much will never speak of
you again

Friday, August 01, 2008

Massachusetts Herb Farm: the home of Bill, Sarah, their kids and creatures

Acclimating to the North East is oh so easy.

Soon some art and reviews and writing as per usual.