May 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Swimming Cities of Sereneissima
Michael Cannell’s piece on the Swimming Cities of Serenissima:
“Imagine if Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters had reenacted “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” That’s roughly what Tianna Kennedy and her crew pulled off when they led a flotilla of floating scrap sculptures from the coast of Slovenia to the heart of Venice.
In a talk last Friday at the Conflux Festival in New York, Kennedy described the trip, an art and design project known as the Swimming Cities of Serenissima, as “making and riding beautiful junk from Koper to Venice with many dirty people, putting on a show, and then taking it all apart again.”
Fortunately for Kennedy, she’d already had some experience converting squat house culture into a functioning fleet. Last year she worked in the production crew for an experimental film, The Flood, based on the artist Swoon’s trip down the Hudson River with artists and performers on seven intricately crafted rafts made from garbage and other scavenged material. The group staged performances in towns along the way. The film used the crafts as a backdrop for a story about an escape from economic and ecological collapse.
A dumpster-diving, freegan crew needs a strong organization to make the 130-mile trip to Venice. And it started when Kennedy (above) and the Swimming Cities Team began pulling wood out of construction site dumpsters on the streets of New York in December 2008. What they couldn’t scavenge they bought from Build It Green, a salvage lumber outlet in Astoria, Queens. They then shipped two 40-foot containers to the Slovenian town of Koper where she assembled the parts into three 20-foot-tall sculptures floating on pontoons. The group crew of 30–plus a few stowaways–navigated across the Adriatic to Venice in time to stage a series of performances at the Biennale. Along the way Kennedy bluffed her way through international maritime law, negotiated Italian insurance forms and argued endlessly with the Italian Coast Guard. When she tried to get a safety certificate from a German engineer, he said, “Oh no. It’s you. I saw you on the news.”
Swimming Cities was an anarchic crew with more than its share of conflict and mishap. One member broke his neck jumping off a building, and Kennedy found herself contending with storms, arrests and bickering. “The only thing that was sacred was the motors,” Kennedy said. “Nobody could fuck with the motors.”
The crew had almost no money, and they subsisted on bread, prosecco and beer. “I was miserable for a good 70 percent of the time,” Kennedy said, until they floated victoriously into Venice for two weeks of puppet theater, silent movies and music alongside the Venice gardini in June. “Kids asked me ‘Where’s Peter Pan,” she said. “I felt like Santa Claus.”
March 18, 2012 § 2 Comments
In the past month, I have:
-Written and passed my doctoral preliminary exams (an important step).
-Been accepted to present at another international conference.
-Secured summer teaching (University Writing for non-native English speakers).
-Traveled to Kenya with my mother for 10 days and returned.
I’ve finally accomplished enough to believe in the finish line.
And even though I’m definitely putting some brag out there,
I also feel more grateful and humble following my trip.
Kenya marks my 18th country-visited, and perhaps my favorite.
I don’t think I can summarize my experiences in any way that does them justice.
But I can share a few photos of the 800+ that I took.
(I made the full photo albums public on facebook, click HERE for those.)
February 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
I’ve been gone a while.
I have missed you, blog. You are my internet playground, my digital hobby. I was devoured by the PhD Exams Beast, and won’t be shat out till March. My birthday is hiding in my schedule, somewhere; on that day my school-panic will momentarily lapse in the face of existential-mortality-aging-panic. To be cured with: bourbon and a massage I bought on LivingSocial forever ago. Then, a highly anticipated bucket-list sort of trip with my lovely mother. Life is good.
So how about some photography, then? May I interest you in a project by Theron Humphrey, who is traveling “around all 50 states over the next 365 days” photographing his dog, Maddie? It’s a surprisingly sophisticated project that plays a bit with color composition, shapes, and texture. The photos are all anchored by Maddie the coonhound, she clarifies the personalities of her surroundings. Mostly, I love how well-humored, accessible and friendly the work is.
I present Maddie on Things!
November 10, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Or what you’d do in Savage if not drink beer at Rams Head Tavern and climb around an abandoned mill.
But in DC, what can’t you do? I haven’t been since I was a tiny creature without hair nor memory, so, I was decidedly overwhelmed and teary eyed taking in the hyper-political structures and overall energy. Studying rhetoric means you’ve probably studied the discourse of Lincoln and MLK Jr. for years now. Or (like me) you were first seduced by postmodern theory through this analysis of public memorializing via the Vietnam veteran memorial. Reading that piece was important to my understanding of the diverse depths of rhetoric as a discipline and I’ll never forget reading it and wanting to see the memorial in person. I didn’t have time to experience everything as I’d like to, the reflection pool was in a state of reconstructive disrepair, but, I’ll go back. Soonish. And I’ll be really happy when I do.