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Amazing, sometimes, how the ignorance and fear of New York City authority figures can contribute so much to success of the artists who come here. In the grand tradition of Jesse Helms making Andres Serrano famous (for Piss Christ, an obvious, um, violation of church and state), Rudy Giuliani helped Chris Ofili’s career greatly when he decided to become upset about the artist’s The Holy Virgin Mary, calling it “horrible and disgusting.” RNC cops in 2004 went to great lengths to make the silly puppets political protesters break out at every opportunity seem genuinely threatening, while the NYC Parks Department has recently worked itself into a panic because Olafur Eliason’s (city-sanctioned) Waterfalls may or may not be damaging nearby trees.
Now, on the eve of tomorrow’s [now cancelled] Art Parade, New York cops have apparently decided that the Deitch Projects artist Swoon is in fact a pirate. Her flotilla, the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea (“think Huck Finn rafts, Flying Neutrinos riverboats, and the theme-park props from Pirates of the Caribbean“), was intercepted on the water yesterday when anxious Staten Island Ferry riders thought they were about to be overrun and called the cops. “Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea,” of course, was headed to Deitch Studios, in Long Island City, in time to stage a Lisa D’Amour performance on Sunday, but ended up there early, when the aquatic police decided to “escort” them there, to avoid any harm to innocent landlubbers, ferry-riders, etc. I’m sure Swoon is grateful for the career boost. But who are these people who fear literally everything, even artists who actually have permits from the Coast Guard and everything?