On View: Swoon’s “Submerged Motherlands” at the Brooklyn Museum

by Soojin ChangPosted on

For Swoon’s latest site-specific installation “Submerged Motherlands,” the artist brings together familiar faces of all shapes and sizes in to the open space rotunda of the Brooklyn Museum. Nestled around a staggering 70-foot tree and its many shadowy branches, the colossal aboriginal man from the artist’s 2011 show “Anthropocene Extinction” laughs on one entrance point of the installation as the sea goddesses and their oozing capilllaries of “Thalassa” frame an alternate passage. The throng of highly-detailed bamboo, cut paper, linoleum and woodcuts are, at the core, not at all a far departure from the type of work Swoon has been constructing for over a decade, yet the body of works is able to find a virtually revamped context, one that circles around and bleeds out from the idea of the home.

“Submerged Motherlands” is a homecoming on many fronts — for Swoon, Brooklyn being her home city, as well as for the rafts on view, which made their way back through Italian Customs just in time, after a near 5 year voyage that began when Swoon and her crew of thirty crashed the 2009 Venice Biennale via the Grand Canal in the performance “Swimming Cities of Serenissima.”

While arching your back to grasp the entirety of Swoon’s installation, it’s hard not to think of Liz Glynn’s “On the Possibility of Salvage” at Paula Cooper Gallery earlier this year — which, through the story of Odysseus, also orbits around the long journey home, and features a looted vessel and its many spilling, ravaged treasures. Each artist’s use of space, however, is what truly makes a world of a difference. Rather than utilizing a stark gallery space to forewarn of the nostalgic beauties of plundered and ultimately forgotten objects, Swoon’s installation lifts beyond the possibilities into a world that is already engulfed yet still clearly thriving.

“Submerged Motherlands” will be on view from April 11 through August 24. Photos by Alejandra Sabillon.

Swoon at the opening reception of “Submerged Motherlands” on April 9.