Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mainstream Street Art

One year ago, Swoon crashed the 53rd Venice Biennale with her eco-friendly boat. This was a memorable event in the street artist's career. Known for her disdain for authority and institutions, she was the only female artist featured in Bansky's movie " Exit Through the Gift Shop".
This Summer, her installation, a giant sea monster, inhabits the Great Hall at the NOMA. It is called Thalassa after the Greek goddess of the sea.

Swoon, who moved from Florida to New York City, has made her name by transforming neighborhoods, working in the shadow and creating events with her installations.
This time, her work is an amalgam of New Orleans cliches : a female, colored, prostitute from Storyville, also a siren with sea creatures for decoration, scary black tentacles spreading over the Great Hall. The subject has a dramatic expression and tense pose, looking at the sky, which contrasts with the playful, multicolored, lower piece, the bottom-womb of the creature.The artist has claimed long ago her inspiration from German Expressionism, discovered during a prolonged stay in Prague, and Indonesian shadow puppetry for her lacy cutouts.

The work is made to entertain and hopefully will bring crowds this Summer at the NOMA, but it lacks spontaneity.

To look at this installation, I consulted my inner child and found it was not dramatic enough, did not bring the little chill of fear, knowing it is a dream.
One year ago, an article in ARTnews, described her art, and I found this quote from the artist who was rebelling against "the feeling that you were supposed to create work that has its end place, a life in an institution or a collector's home." This work cannot fly beyond a Summer piece, for the museum.

Where are graffiti, provocative works, real monsters? A street artist, gone on the right side of the law, on the wrong side of the art.

photographs by the author

"Thalassa", Swoon

No comments: