Currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art "Submerged Motherlands" is an installation by famed Brooklyn street artist Swoon. Made from barges that the artist sailed down both the Hudson and the Venice Canals as well as pieces made specifically for the installation, "Submerged Motherlands" is a meditation on climate change. At its center is a sixty foot tree meant to represent the tree of life surrounded by boats and images of life, women, and family. The artist was inspired by the devastation her neighborhood experienced during Hurricane Sandy as well as Doggerland, the strip of land that connected England and Europe but sunk eight-thousand years ago, to ask what is lost when the waters rise. What happens to us when we lose the land that birthed us? How do we live with the fact that it is our actions that lead to its loss?
The piece is filled with Swoons trademark figurative paintings as well as delicate tracery meant to evoke water and leaves. There is a gazebo like structure meant to recall the womb, filled with images of mothers and their children amidst honeycombs. This is meant to evoke the idea of humanity as the bee colony serving earth the Queen Bee. Along the walls are images of the people who will lose their homes as the oceans rise as well as pictures of goddesses lost to the waves. The women depicted are meant to also represent the continuity of life and history that is lost with climate change and the walls are painted in shades of blue meant to be the waters. The barges themselves are what we can hope to bring with us and have images of skeletons on them meant to evoke the death of what came before.
Overall the installation is an amazing contemplation of our changing world and the place of woman as carriers of history and life. It seeks to champion holistic being over selfish striving and community over capitalism, a true manifesto and what we stand to lose if we do not change our course.
Photos via the museum.