Swap Stories (2005)
[a ‘Monument for the USA’]
ink, pencil, wax and collage drawing on formica panel with accompanying caption.
16” x 20” x ½”
A project for: Monuments for the USA, April 7-May 14, curated by Ralph Rugoff, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco and at White Columns, New York, December 15, 2005–January 28, 2006
Adam Chodzko accompanied Swap Stories with a text:
Monument for the USA (1)
The monument is a vast and extraordinary garden, floating on the sea. This ship has a combined function as both orphanage and meeting place. To be more exact, the ‘monument’ is the series of specific relationships that take place within this structure.
Each person (2) in the United States is allocated (3) a mentor (4) from the floating orphanage.
The ship sails the seas collecting and nurturing the world’s orphaned children. The ship’s crew is able to care (5) for them with love, humour, intelligence and complete fairness.
Every 7 years the US mentoree is flown (or floated) out to meet their orphan mentor aboard this ship. In pairs they develop its gardens during the day. But the primary focus of this monument is a nocturnal activity; the murmured exchange of stories (6) between one another as they lie in their cabin bunks at night.
(1) Paid for from the profits from the 100 richest companies in the US. It is a great privilege for them. Therefore they are allowed no input into the management of the ship nor to claim any credit for financially supporting it.
(2) …regardless of immigration status.
(3) …allocated randomly. But by chance it seems that opposites (personality, appearance etc) seem to regularly coincide.
(4) …of approximately the same age, yet acting as counsellor and sage to the mentoree.
(5) These children are welcome to leave the orphanage whenever they feel they are ready, the ship dropping them off in the country of their choice. In which case they return to the garden ship every 7 years to meet the person they are mentoring.
(6) …perfectly, unobtrusively and automatically translated.
The Swap Stories drawing shows two overlapping speech bubbles, each with quite different styles of image content. Swap Stories while using similar drawing (and narrative) techniques to Cleaner and the contract for Flasher also relates closely to Chodzko’s more poetic ‘meeting’ works (eg: Meetings of People with Stammers to Describe a Fire), works proposing a new social relationships within sleep and the nocturnal (eg: Sleepers and Night Shift) and those that are based around catalysing particular dialogues between disparate individuals (eg: The Gorgies Centre, cell-a and Our Host Postponed the Drinks Until After the Storm ). Swap Stories also arose directly from reflections about care and communication through Chodzko’s experience of looking after his two young sons.