In 2009, Brooklyn street artist Swoon and two dozen or so friends crashed the Venice Biennale contemporary art show in hulking rafts made from New York City garbage. Called the Swimming Cities of Serenissima, the boats looked like something out of the 1990s post-apocalyptic movies “Tank Girl” and “Waterworld” sprinkled with a bit of swamp water. (Swoon said some of the inspiration came from her childhood in Florida.)
The project built upon Swoon’s previous work exploring the intersection of art and aquatic communal living. In 2006 and 2007, she and her crew floated down the Mississippi River on a homemade flotilla. The next year, they sailed a fleet of DIY rafts down the Hudson.
“As the Swimming Cities moved toward Venice, the crew collected and installed keepsakes in an ark-like cabinet of wonders that was displayed on the boats when they arrived,” notes Swoon on a blog created for the Serenissima voyage. “Watching them approach the shore was like seeing a floating city in the distance, as improbable as Venice itself.”
Photographer and crew-member for every trip, Tod Seelie has documented the real-life Waterworld, on these epic journeys.
A few residents of the swimming cities captured by Tod Seelie: