The Brooklyn Museum has just installed a site-specific piece by artist Swoon, entitled Submerged Motherlands. Comprised of a monumental tree and a constructed surrounding environment, the work addresses issues of destruction and renewal in the artist’s signature multimedia approach.
Best known for her large, intricately-cut prints wheat pasted to industrial buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan, Swoon celebrates everyday people while exploring social and environmental issues. She is often inspired by real contemporary and historical events, and she actively engages herself with hotbed issues, particularly climate change.
In this exhibition, sitting in an intriguing position just below the museum’s fifth floor skylight, the artist has transformed the rotunda gallery of the Brooklyn Museum into a landscape involving sculpted boats and rafts, figurative prints and drawings, and cut paper foliage, all surrounding the base of a large sculpted tree. The installation is intended to be her response to Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Atlantic coast in 2012, including parts of Brooklyn. She also attributes this exhibition to the memory of Doggerland, a landmass that used to connect Great Britain and Europe, which was destroyed by a tsunami 8,000 years ago. Reminding viewers of the delicacy of the New York island and the mercilessness of natural disasters, Swoon has created a representation of our fragile relationship with nature.
A graduate of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Swoon is active in a variety of humanitarian groups, particularly Konbit Shelter Project, which is helping to build sustainable buildings in Haiti, and Transformazium, where she works with local residents of Braddock, Pennsylvania to revitalize their community.
Swoon: Submerged Motherlands was organized by Sharon Matt Atkins, Managing Curator of Exhibitions, Brooklyn Museum, and it will remain on view through August 24, 2014 in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery, 5th floor.