Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Famous Part Time Braddock Resident, Swoon On Art News Cover

One of the young faces at the recent Braddock Elks Lodge Chile Cookoff belonged to the Street Artist, Swoon who I think will be around putting effort into the Transformazium project in North Braddock. She is the subject of the current Art News cover story.

Transformazium Music Video from Joshua Tonies on Vimeo.

Video by Josh Tonies

"For the time being, Swoon's ambitions are now firmly landlocked. In late January, the artist headed off to the mountains of Virginia with her boyfriend, the artist Ben Wolf, who collaborates with her on some projects. She spent several weeks there making drawings and studying the architecture for an arts center she’s helping to build in Braddock, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh, in a community where jobs are scarce and the recession is deeply felt, as in much of small-town America. The centerpiece of the project is an abandoned church. "We're going to do some experiments to make the building more sustainable," she says, like constructing an energy-generating playground that will "make the little buggers work," she adds with a giggle. To raise money for this and other projects, Swoon sells editions of her work through several galleries, including Deitch Projects, New Image Art in Los Angeles, and Black Rat Projects in London, with prints and drawings priced from a rock-bottom $100 up to $30,000.

In her free time, Swoon loves to surf, though she confesses she's "terrible at it." She's also an avid traveler; last year she took a motorcycle trip across India. When she's in a strange city, she likes to ride her bike and explore abandoned structures and tunnels. In the studio, she listens to low-key music, like that of Philip Glass and Tom Waits, but once outside, she goes for New Orleans "bounce," as well as bands and musicians like Dirty Fingers, Girl Talk, and Mos Def—"basically music to dance to," she says.

As with many of her endeavors, the Braddock center, called Transformazium, has a socially ambitious agenda, but the end result is as much esthetic as political. "For me," Swoon says, the work "is about trying to understand the world, to gain a consciousness of what's happening, and then creating work that's a document of that process."

Here are some images that I hope capture the beauty of her Switchback Sea show @ Deitch Projects a few years ago.

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