Swimmin' the river : (The swim)
Summary: In Swimmin' the River (1987-1997), Billy Curmano swims the length of the Mississippi River as a political gesture to advocate for the freedom from toxicity. Spanning from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, Curmano uses the river as an artistic medium and political landscape to discuss environmental issues. He wades in the Mississippi as the sunlight glistens and the wind shapes the tide. Each stroke Curmano takes is an attempt to reclaim the river under the banner of art and work toward an agenda for climate justice. The ecology of Curmano’s swim can largely be seen as an extended metaphor of pollution—one in which our existence has become contaminated by the effects of eco-capitalism.
Summary: Billy X. Curmano’s art practice examines issues of consequence with absurdist flair. Formally trained as a painter and sculptor, Curmano fuses the performative with traditional objects. He became the first person to swim the Mississippi River spanning from the source at Lake Itasca, through the center of the continental United States, to the Gulf of Mexico. This performance resulted in the Hampton Award Winning documentary Swimming the River (1987-1997), which brought the artist critical acclaim. Curmano extended the swim by performing excerpts of it in the traveling exhibition Objects Collected and Created in the Course of a Swim (1995-1997). His work has been exhibited and collected extensively from Austria’s III Vienna Graphikbiennale to New York’s Museum of Modern Art Library. Mark Pezinger Verlag published Billy X. Curmano Futurism’s Bastard Son (2012), an artist book that features a compilation of Curmano’s performance art. Amused journalists have dubbed Curmano as “The Court Jester of Southeastern Minnesota” with comparisons to P.T. Barnum, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and even... a happy otter.
Credits: Billy Curmano, The New X Art Ensemble, Amazing Tess Toss Tertones, and Nuclear Percussion Ensemble, musical score.
Credits: Billy Curmano, performer.