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Barging In to Venice


Inside, graffiti like NO WORK, NO MONEY and LIVE FREE lines the walls, and the ceiling has collapsed onto the floor. There are hundreds of floppy-disk boxes, reams of dot-matrix paper, crushed faxes, old telephones, and small plastic boxes (“We could sell weed in these,” one guy jokes). Some aerosol cans lie on the ground; a few in the crew pierce them quickly, adding their tags to the walls. A guy holds up a bunch of corks: “I can use these to plug up my bike ends,” he says, stuffing them into his pocket. They pop a skylight out of its frame and take a knife to some herringbone flooring, then cut through a heavy wire fence to the street, so they can move out their winnings. Just then, Blossom sets off an alarm—they’ve been spotted by construction workers in the next building. Within minutes, the cops are outside, but they slip out a side exit, blending back into the street.

It’s a stroke of good luck, but they can’t go back to Swoon empty-handed. They pull into an open field, with a ravine piled high with rusting cars (“Is that our car from the future?” Orien McNeill asks, pointing at a crushed blue van). Then they spot them: two flawless four-by-eight planks, worth at least $200 in Slovenian Home Depot. They tie them quickly to the top of the van, along with a rotting surfboard, and are about to rush off when a young Slovenian couple appears. In broken English, the wife explains that this is the field they use for training dogs and that’s their plywood. Eventually, Swoon’s crew undoes the twine from the top of the car. “Callie wouldn’t have wanted us to take it,” McNeill says.

In the car, though, they growl about their bad fortune. She was probably lying, and why did they have to give it back, anyway? Finders keepers, that’s their motto. It’s not like Swoon is selling her boats: This is just art they’re using to float on the sea, and after Venice, it will be garbage, once again.


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