Dweck is always pursuing the unfamiliar in his photographs, searching for worlds and stories that few knew existed, and fewer have ever seen—like the remote island in the Gulf of Mexico where mermaids live in seclusion, as a tight-knit community. In his underwater photos of their bizarre paradise, these women are paragons of grace, gliding through the water as deep as 50 feet below the surface, seemingly without discomfort. At once fantastical and unmistakably human, they exist in a transfixing liminal state.
How else can a photo exist? Here, Dweck answers by melding image and object, conceiving sculptural forms that transport us into the mysterious environs that these elusive women inhabit. Resembling impossibly perfect surfboards, these aerodynamic wonders are made of foam and silk. Resin coats them in smooth, seductive layers, an allusion to the Finish Fetish and Light and Space artists of 1970s Los Angeles, like Larry Bell, John McCracken, and Peter Alexander, who also favored the medium. Inspired by hot rods and jet planes, they forged a fundamentally optimistic art, alert to the present and eager for the future—“in love with the modern world . . . and the neon when it’s cold outside,” as Jonathan Richman says.
A similar sentiment imbues Dweck’s work, though it is cut through with a dash of melancholy. These mermaids are gliding through the water, as unrestrained as a car on the open road, as free as we are at only our luckiest moments. You get the sense that they could swim forever, never needing to come up for air. Even as the world changes around them, beyond their shores, they exemplify an active and joyful alternative model of contemporary life. They have the sun, the sky, and the water. We, at least, have this art.