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SWIMirl is a cinematic and spatial installation which premiers at the Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (Hong Kong) on Saturday the 10th of September.
Created by Robert Bourke Architects and filmmaker Marion Bergin supported by Areaman Productions, the piece responds to the Biennale’s theme entitled ‘Seeds of Resilience’. Participants proposed ways that worldwide citizens can cope with contemporary urban challenges such as socio-political flux, global pandemics and the climate and biodiversity crisis.
The immersive installation offers a transcendent experience of Dublin Bay for the people of Hong Kong. During the pandemic, Dubliners turned to wild swimming in droves seeking warmth, connection and shared experiences in the cold waters of the Irish sea. It has continued beyond lockdown to become a popular activity for solace and sustenance in navigating life’s pressures – for Hong Kong, a utopia on faraway shores to long for.
This experiential collaboration is crafted as a visual journey and soundscape to gently encourage respite and reflection. Hong Kong city dwellers are invited to sit and experience a drop in cortisol by engaging in this slow, purposely meditative piece and come away a little lighter, with a renewed sense of hope and well-being, just like that experienced by Dubliners post-swim.
The film is shot at three popular swim spots along the coast of Dublin: the Vico, High Rock and the Bull Wall. We encounter diverse swimmers who regularly visit these spots to connect with the natural world and the brutalist concrete structures, often built in the 1960’s, that facilitate entry, even in the wildest winter. These elements sit quietly in the film and, like the shelters themselves, their safe and grounding presence is felt amongst the cold waters and warm feelings of the piece.
SWIMirl is an abstract reflection upon the people we meet and the waters that connect them. The piece digitally communicates an irl (in real life) experience, demonstrating how emotion, warmth and solidarity can be felt and shared, regardless of location, within the limitless possibilities of technological advancement.
This project has been kindly supported by Creative Ireland and the Irish Architecture Foundation.
Architect – Rober Bourke Architects
Filmmaker – Marion Bergin
Producer – Marion Bergin/Shane Hogan
Production Company – Areaman
Cinematographer – Kevin L Smith
Sound Recordist – Kev Moore of Sound Speed
Colour Grade – Leandro Arouca of Element
Sound Design – James D Latimer
Production Assistant – Kiva Durkan
Coordination in Hong Kong – Sam Chan
During recent difficult times, people in Hong Kong strive to make positive changes to society within their capacity. These bottom-up efforts are the seeds of resilience that have come from Hong Kong’s own soil. In UABB2022, looks within our society to creatively catalogue personal, communal, and ecological assets, gathering these diverse seeds of resilience from different corners and placing them under nourishing light. Seeds are minuscule energy pods, preserving lifeforce through difficulties, proliferating into fruition when placed in the right conditions for growth. We draw inspiration from the past, utilize our present resources and challenges, and will generate new visions for the future. UABB2022 aims at documenting the seeds of resilience of our unique time and place, much like a seed bank. Perhaps, after multiple generations, some of these ideas could become reality!
Robert Bourke Architects
Robert Bourke Architects is an award-winning practice based in the city centre of Dublin. Winners of the RIAI Best Emerging Practice in 2014, RBA’s work has been exhibited internationally and is currently being exhibited at the Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2022, Estonia. RBA aims to produce thoughtful and evocative work that responds to the social and environmental challenges of our time.
Marion Bergin is an Irish filmmaker, photographer and creative director based between London and Dublin. She approaches projects with an innate desire to understand and connect, creating intimate pieces to move and inspire, fostering new perspectives encouraging closeness and compassion. She sees the universal language of beauty as a way to communicate beyond words and creates work with the simple aim of making people feel better.
Sam Chan is a Hong Kong registered architect with CUHK’s Master in Architecture. His design aims to enrich and innovate the urban experience, with projects including the Padding Table for Blue House (Designer, 2018), “FM108, to…” for deTour 2021 and Wanchai Flower Show (co-curator, 2022). Sam is now a tutor of Spatial Studies in the HKICC School of Creativity.
Shane Hogan is a producer based in Wicklow, Ireland. His company AREAMAN produces commercial and cultural video including a film installation in collaboration with photographer Matthew Thompson as part of The Irish Pavilion at the Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism Shenzhen, China in 2015/16. They company also produces for Ireland’s leading culture institutions as well projects funded by Screen Ireland, The Arts Council of Ireland and Ireland’s National Broadcaster, RTÉ.
Photos: Still shot of SWIMirl film © Marion Bergin