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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I read about the Miss Rockaway Armada in 2007 on the fecal-face website, a venture run in 2006 and 2007 where a group of people built large unpowered rafts from salvaged materials and floated on them down the Mississippi river in a kind of Huck Finn meets post-Katrina dumpster diving odyssey.
The street artist Swoon further developed the concept on a number of occasions leading to the 'Swimming Cities of Serenissima' project. A handmade fleet of rafts made from reclaimed materials travelled from Slovakia to (gatecrash) the Venice Biennial across the Adriatic sea. The voyage was documented by the photographer Tod Seelie
The aesthetics of the rafts are carefully curated, and while on examination the materials are clearly junk, as a whole entity they seems much more graceful and emotive of childhood dreams and adventure stories. In particular I am reminded of two entirely separate things from my childhood, the book Junk Castle by Robert Klein, telling the story of a group of neighbourhood kids who build a giant fort from rubbish and defend it from an irksome neighbour. And the painting 'the raft of the medusa' by french artist Theodore Gericault detailing a historic shipwreck off the coast of Africa in 1816, where 147 people were set adrift on a small raft, reduced to madness and cannibalism, only 15 survived. The painting was in a flimsy paged encyclopedia which much childhood procrastination resulted in me skim reading cover to cover.
Anyway, when the ships reached Venice, it is interesting to make the comparison between them, and the city, both rickety, dilapidated, battling the sea yet picturesque and soulful.

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