Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Of the performance: Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea (with links)

The gathering crowd, pre-performance.

A good sized crowd made is down to Beacon Point for the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea performance on Sunday Night.
I heard mixed, but generally good reviews of the hour long piece made up mostly of spoken narration with musical accompaniment. The highest praise I heard was lavished on the band
Dark Dark Dark. The downside for me was that most narrators' monologues were difficult to hear over the waves, geese and the generator hidden in the bushes.

The floating stage

I really dig the idea of the itinerant troubadours drifting from town to town, drawing an entertainment starved community down to the waterfront for some diversion. (A more piratic version of this tale would incorporate such a diversion to give a second stealthy crew freedom to liberate the townfolk of the valuables in their homes whilst they linger on the river.)
In my mind, the performance node of this endeavor is just one part of the larger project that raises fundamental issues of community, ecology, and the pace of life at a point when mainstream and fringe rub against one another. Poetically, Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea is a floating (more intensive)analogue to the Habitat for Artists, and I enjoyed seeing the pitched tents nestled among the habitats, providing a sheltering space for a new set of artists on their journey. Both projects invoke the custom of artmaking to create temporary community, facilitating an exchange of ideas on a neutral ground.
The crew afloat on the Swimming Cities vessels is a loose conglomeration of groups, some tenously linked, not everyone knows everyone else it seems, acting as one that then leaves traces on the river folk with whom they share a moment along the way.

A cool photo by sucka pants of the fleet heading toward Bannerman Island. via fecalface

More Swimming Cities content:
Here's a review from Kingston with excerpts of the spoken text at
Brief Epigrams has some photos.
Flood is a film project that is being created along the way.
Reclaimed Home , a blog here in Beacon has some images.
KSW blog has a running diary of the cruise.

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