EMERGING FROM THE SWAMP

2016

This work was conceived during an artist residency in the everglades AIRIE.

It consists of a single channel video duration 02:30 min

and a series of 12 inkjet Photographs

My continued interest in historic Wunderkammers, which often included exotic artifacts from distant lands collected by explorers, led me to read about the early european explorers of the Everglades during my residency there.
I read about how European explorers found this harsh landscape hostile and inhospitable while the Natives thrived in it. For this project I staged a European explorer’s studio submerged into the swamp in the Everglades area. Antique artifacts, a desk, bookshelves, maps, collected shells and skulls, a globe, all appear semi submerged in the mosquito and snake filled swamp. Portraying an explorers failed attempt to settle in this landscape.
During my residency with AIRIE I met Steve Tennis an hydrologist who worked in the park and told him my idea, which seemed like a fantasy, to stage and film an explorers studio submerged in the swamp. Im grateful he decided to take on the challenge and helped me create it. I went to local yard sales in Homestead, and bought some underpriced historic artifacts. I went to the local antique store and they leant me all the artifacts I needed for 20$. Steve also leant me some personal artifacts from his collection, such as sculls and snake skins and maps. I bought furniture in the Salvation Army store and we loaded it all onto Steve’s truck.
Next we had to collect some snakes to star in the film,  we drove out one evening to Big Cypress and Steve caught 3 indigenous none poisonous snakes from the road and put them in a bag. He kept the snakes in an Aquarium in his yard, but the morning of the shoot 2 of of the 3 snakes were gone.  So we only had one.
Steve and his friend Tad helped me bring it all the artifacts, furniture and snakes into the swamp at 2 am on the night of the filming. I wore a netted suit and mask to protect from the mosquitoes.
When we arrived, Tad pointed his flashlight onto the swamp. Shiny yellow eyes belonging to the many alligators reflected brightly. “No big ones, except for one over there, which is far, so are safe”,declared Tad. He explained that an alligator won’t attempt to eat anything bigger than itself.  The two men walked into the swamp carrying the furniture and artifacts while I gave staging directions from the shore. After it was set I climbed into the canoe to start filming,  and straight away I fell right into the swamp, but luckily got back into the canoe before any alligators came.  From this very intense night, I made a short film and a series of photographs titled Emerging From The Swamp.
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