Director’s Exhibition Tour “S-s-swimmers”

“S-s-swimers,” 2005, 26 x 108 inches; Acrylic on canvas, enamel on cast polyurethan
Vernon Fisher, “S-s-swimers,” 2005, 26 x 108 inches; Acrylic on canvas, enamel on cast polyurethane; Courtesy the artist.

Looking at Vernon Fisher’s art is like playing a game or solving a riddle. Fisher uses images and symbols from literature, film, and popular culture in his art. The origin of the symbol is not as important as the impression it gives.

This installation piece titled “S-s-swimmers” on view at the WFMA includes a painting in the form of a diptych (two panels) and a 3D ellipsis or the ‘dot-dot-dot’ typically placed at the end of a sentence to suggest that something is an idea or continues in some way.

In these nearly identical monotone (one color) paintings we see a woman swimming freestyle. The lane rope appears pulled to her body, suggesting the force of her movement in the choppy water. We see her face lift out of the water as she takes a breath. What does it feel like to swim like that? We may think of being vulnerable, desperate, striving, and focused, repeating over and over again.

Looking closely we see tiny military-style helicopters flying over the woman’s body. This makes me think of her as a battleground – her body as a woman and an athlete; her quest to finish the race (both in the pool and in life); and ideas of competition, winning and spectatorship…

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