Swoon, Coney Island Installation, 2005. Ink, spray paint, paint, craft paper, mylar, and bufftrace paper, Approximately 108 × 208 inches (274.3 × 528.3 cm). Gift of Beth and Anthony Terrana. Photo by Charles Mayer Photography. © Swoon
Since 1999, Swoon (born Caledonia Curry) has made cut-paper figures that she applies, often illicitly, to the exterior walls of industrial buildings. In recent years, she has started to make work for museums and galleries, in part to help support her interventions in public space.
Coney Island Installation sets three figures against a carnivalesque scene at Coney Island in New York. Constructed of more than fifty precisely cut leaves of Mylar and newsprint, the work presents semitransparent strata that blur the boundaries between figure and ground, inside and outside. Usually impermanent, these materials register a kind of pathos, suggesting the inevitable passing of all things and beings. In 2011, Swoon created a major installation for the ICA/Boston on the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall and in the building’s elevator shaft, employing the same cut-paper technique.
The acquisition of this wall installation signals the ICA’s history with Swoon, as well as its curatorial interest in graffiti and street art, as exemplified by the exhibitions organized by the museum of work by Shepard Fairey and Barry McGee.