Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ride A White Swan (Update)

A few months ago I linked, not without skepticism, to a report that one of The Selected Ballads' favorite writers, the great, underappreciated-in-America Iain Sinclair, was collaborating on a project that somehow involved the 2012 Olympic site and a river journey by pedal-driven swan boat.  Not being familiar with his collaborator, filmmaker/artist Andrew Kötting, it seemed too strange to be true. Now, it turns out there's online documentation [via] that it really happened, though the photo of Sinclair and Kötting in their swan boat being lowered into the water by helicopter is almost enough to make me start doubting the whole thing all over again.  More documentation, some of it via pinhole camera, on the impressively pseudonymed Anonymous Bosch's Flickr (his non-swan-related photos of London and Londoners are also well worth a look).

As fanciful as the project still seems, it makes more sense to me after finishing Sinclair's latest book, Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire, in which the swan is something of a motif, a recurring and shifting symbol or totem.  There's swan graffiti, a gory swan massacre, and even the mysterious Dr. Swan (aka Swanny), a seedy character who Sinclair tracks through a Hackney underworld (one of many underworlds Sinclair explores, including the Hackney Mole Man's literal one) of day-drinkers, self-medicating doctors, and disgraced morgue attendants haunting abandoned hospitals.

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