What’s Your Utopia Look Like?

These are the Swimming Cities of Serenissima.


Photo by Tod Seelie

They are junk boats. They were built mostly from found objects by a merry band of dumpster diving fregans; 30 of them in all, give or take some stowaways. In 2009, these three vessels made the 130 mile journey from Slovenia to Venice.

They were designed by the artist, Swoon, and come out of short but sturdy heritage of floating cities made from junk. In 2008 there was the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, which sailed down the Hudson River- its residents performing in towns along the way. In 06 and 07, the Miss Rockaway Armada sailed down the Mississippi.


Tianna Kennedy, manager, organizer, capitan of the Swimming Cities of Serenissima. Photo by Tod Seelie.

This flotilla was managed by Tianna Kennedy, pictured above. It reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are. Of all of the times my cousin and I went down into the piny woods that surrounded Traveler’s Rest South Carolina, in search of the devil and the White Dogs, both of which lived within.

How can something so grimy can be so wholesome? A man broke his neck during the journey, jumping from one of the buildings. There was bickering and storms. There were arrests and misery. A lot of misery.

Still, these photos made me nostalgic for something that I’ve never experienced. And now, junk cities have jumped to the top of my list of ways to deal with the apocalypse. When the zombies come, I will be looking for barrels and boards. The dead can’t swim.