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Plymouth-based artists Sefryn Penrose and Angela Piccini discuss their work-in-progress Swan Out live from the river bank. Register using the Eventbrite link to receive the Zoom details.

In Swandown (2012), Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair ‘pedal a swan-shaped paddle-boat from the seaside in Hastings to Hackney [upstream] using England’s inland waterways’. Their swan-based performance is either an absurdist critique of Olympic landscapes, documentation of a vanishing Englishness, or a publically funded ‘insufferable mancrush’. Amongst their musings on Blake and Conrad and cameos by a number of like-minded men, artist Marcia Farquhar speaks other people’s words, while another woman, actor Kristin O’Donnell, silently performs in the water. The men debate their lack of female collaborators but happily resolve the problem by declaring their swan to be female. This is not a feminist film.

Since 2019, Penrose and Piccini have spent summers inflating a series of swans – less durable, more prone, but nimbler and lighter than their pedalo cousins – and floating with them down the River Tamar which forms the border between Devon and Cornwall. Initially either a caustic-queer response to a prickly feeling around Swandown and the male appropriation of swan culture, a legitimate use of a gifted inflatable golden swan, or a portrait of borders and flow, Swan Out has become an experiment in reclaiming derring-do: what is it to be brave and foolish as women and to pontificate mid-stream and to take ourselves seriously while doing so? Goneril and Regan do Deliverance. Using handheld waterproof cameras, mobile phones and Go-Pro knock-offs, Swan Out is a multi-perspectival account of going downstream with minimal control: precarious people on precarious rafts in a precarious landscape.
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