Blue Swimmer

Louisa Armbrust

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These four pieces by artist Louisa Armbrust are from a series of life-sized cyanotype photographs of ghostly figures swimming in deep blue space called the Blue Swimmer project.

The photographs, made using cotton fabric coated with a UV sensitive cyanotype solution, are based on images from a 1950s Hungarian competitive swimming manual. The manual features black-and-white, stop-motion, underwater photographs of olympic athletes demonstrating perfect versions of swimming strokes like the crawl, the backstroke, and the butterfly. The Blue Swimmer project reanimates these beautiful but dated images by reenacting the poses captured in the original images and transposing them onto large fabric banners.

“There is something inherently beautiful and interesting in the gap between a rule and the resulting interpretative action. It is a space of play, of translation and potential misadventure, and a central focus of my work. Swimming is an excellent example. We start our life surrounded by water and are composed mostly of water. Yet our movements in water are frequently strange and unfamiliar. We move our bodies differently than we do on land. Most of us have to be taught how to swim, to learn the rules, gestures and movements. This project documents numerous attempts to recreate poses from a swimming instruction manual while lying on dry ground, a further layer of interpretation, a widening of the gap. I hope these ‘underwater’ images encourage viewers to reflect on the creativity and wonder that exists in the space of this gap.”

Artist BIO:

Louisa Armbrust was born in Ottawa, Canada and grew up in Denver, Colorado. She currently live in Brooklyn. Awards include Artist-in-residence at Millay Colony for the Arts, LMCC Swing Space, New Works Project Grant from Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center, New York, Artist-in-Residence at Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been shown at museums and galleries including the Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York, NY, Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island, NY, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI, the Hofstra Museum, Hempstead, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, and Eye Level Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia among others. She received an MA in Visual Arts from Goldsmiths College, University of London.