Who is SWOON?
Caledonia Curry, aka Swoon, was born in 1977 in New London, Connecticut. She is a contemporary artist and filmmaker who was one of the first female street artists to gain international recognition in the predominantly male-dominated scene. For two decades, Swoon has not only been one of the most important women in the street art scene, but is also considered a recognised mixed media artist with numerous exhibitions in the world's most renowned museums, including the Museum of Modern Art New York, New Orleans Museum of Art, Tate Modern London.
At the age of 19, she moved to New York to study painting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 2002 and began to place her art in public spaces while still a student. She feared that otherwise her paintings would one day hang exclusively in museums, galleries or living rooms, so that not everyone would have access to them. That's why she puts her works on empty houses, bridges, fire escapes and water towers.
How does SWOON work?
Swoon works mainly with paste prints and life-size figurative silhouettes that reflect life and her story in all its facets. In the beginning, she worked anonymously in public spaces. She painted under the artist name Swoon only later, through the suggestion of her then boyfriend. After a short time, Swoon gained recognition and notoriety, although the public usually assumed a male artist under the pseudonym. Swoon breaks classical genre boundaries. She works mainly with posterised prints and life-size silhouettes, but is also known for her large installations.
Her unique work is inspired both by classical art history, which she studied intensively during her academic studies, and by fairy tales, myths and folk legends. Swoon's main subject is almost always the portrait. Over two decades she has explored the depth of human complexity. She believes that people store their experiences in their bodies over the years. In her portraits, she wants to make precisely these experiences visible.
The viewer should be encouraged to recognise these experiences in the picture and to perceive his/her own experiences. This creates a very personal connection between the work, the viewer and the model. In this way, her art helps to build a far-reaching sense of connection and thus change the world at least a little. Her greatest concern, however, is to show through her art that the world is bigger and less predictable than most people imagine it to be.
SWOON exhibition at MUCA Munich
At MUCA, the 2019 work Mortimer and Jenkins was on display in the "25 Years" anniversary exhibition (06.10.2022 - 10.09.2023).
Swoon was also on show at MUCA Munich from 09.10.2019 to 04.10.2020 with her retrospective "Time Capsule".
Art to overcome crises
Swoon's exhibitions in galleries and museums are strongly influenced by her community projects in public spaces. In 2015, she founded the Heliotrope Foundation, which supports numerous projects that use art to overcome crises. For example, the Foundation initiated the Konbit Shelter building project after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Her recent works in particular have dealt with the relationship between trauma and addiction. Swoon herself grew up in a family with drug and alcohol addiction. In 2015, she developed the project "The Road Home" in North Philadelphia together with local partners. This included, for example, daily art therapy workshops in this neighbourhood, which is heavily affected by drugs.
What are SWOON's "Swimming Cities"?
One of her most famous projects is a series of floating, inhabited sculptures from 2006, including the work Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea. This exhibition took the form of seven handmade ship sculptures that made a three-week journey along the Hudson River in 2008.
The second part of the exhibition consisted of an installation at Deitch Studios in Long Island City.
The last work in the series, Swimming Cities of Serenissima, 2009, combined themes of urban recycling and the transformation of the urban landscape. Using discarded materials, Swoon built a raft that floated to Venice during the Biennale. The raft, which featured collaborative performances with Ben Burke, Adina Bier and the band Dark Dark Dark, was one of the unofficial highlights of the Biennale, of which Jerry Saltz claimed: "Like the best work here, Swoon's work springs not from academic control but from need and vision."
Swoon's artworks are now in the most renowned museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Mima Museum in Brussels and the Tate in London.
SWOON - Time Capsule at the MUCA
In 2019/2020, the US artist showed works and installations at MUCA under the project name "Time Capsule" as a retrospective of her creative process. For her solo show "Swoon - Time Capsule", Swoon designed an entire room. The main work reflected the transition from street art to gallery art. Swoon used her iconic motif "Ice Queen" - originally conceived as part of her installation for the "Art on the Streets" exhibition at La Moca in the streets of Brooklyn - wallpapered it on wood, enhancing the depth and texture, and completed it with hand painting. This retrospective was the artist's first museum exhibition in Germany. .