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Influential street artist Swoon transforms Institute of Contemporary Art lobby

BOSTON, MA.- On the occasion of its 75th anniversary this fall, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) has commissioned Brooklyn-based artist Swoon to create the fifth installation of the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall. Extending from the elevator atrium to the lobby and soaring forty feet up to the ceiling, Swoon’s new installation is the largest to occupy the Fineberg Art Wall. The work, titled Anthropocene Extinction, is composed of streams of intricately cut paper which connect key sculptural elements within the installation—including a 400-pound, suspended bamboo sculpture. Swoon is on view at the ICA from Sept. 3, 2011 to Dec. 30, 2012.

“The opening of Swoon kicks off a dynamic line-up of fall exhibitions and performances celebrating 75 years of contemporary art in Boston,” said Jill Medvedow, director of the ICA. “Swoon is one of the foremost artists practicing street and activist art today. Her work offers an elegant aesthetic vision combined with ingenuity, artistic experimentation, and an infectious spirit of possibility.”

“Whether on a city street or in a museum gallery, Swoon is highly responsive to the aesthetic possibilities of her environment,” said Pedro Alonzo, adjunct curator at the ICA. “Although her artistic process is extremely labor-intensive, Swoon’s preference for natural and recycled materials lends her work an ephemeral quality. The power of her work is a result not only of its scale and environment, but of the tension created between its complexity and impermanence.”

In both her art and her own life, Swoon is deeply engaged with social issues and humanitarian projects. Anthropocene Extinction looks at the effects of industrialized society on people and the environment, and includes a portrait of one of the last Australian Aboriginals to have experienced traditional nomadic culture. The term “anthropocene” refers to the “age of man” and was recently coined by geologists to describe the outsized influence of man on the natural environment.

Working alone or in collaboration, Swoon’s work is often about forming a community in order to practice what she refers to as a “real world” engagement. Her latest endeavor, the Konbit Shelter Project, is a sustainable building project assisting Haitians who lost their homes in the devastating 2010 earthquake. During the 2009 Venice Biennale, Swoon and a crew of other artists and friends sailed boats made of reclaimed materials through the canals of Venice—creating new purpose out of what was cast aside.

Artist bio
Caledonia Curry (b. 1977), known as Swoon, is widely considered a leader in the genre of street art. She is best known for her intricately cut, life-sized portraits found on streets and abandoned buildings in cities around the world. Often found in beautiful states of decay, her wheat-pasted installations are populated by realistically rendered people going about everyday activities in a cityscape of her own invention. Swoon’s prints and paper cutouts take inspiration from the German Expressionists of the early twentieth century as well as Indonesian shadow puppetry. Her work belongs to the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum, and has appeared in exhibitions at Deitch Projects (2008) and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2008), amongst others.

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