TOAST: “Swan Lake and Swan Dance” by Guendalina Cerruti

“An explorer, sat on the bank, contemplates the calm and silent surface of the lake, fantasizing about the experiences of its inhabitants and imagining their conversations.”


The site-specific artwork Swan Lake and Swan Dance, conceived by the artist for TOAST at  Manifattura Tabacchi, explores the figure of the swan, observing and examining its aesthetic, expressive and symbolic value, both in the collective imagination and in cultural production.

One project over two chapters:

Swan Lake is the installation that Guendalina installed inside the exhibition space itself, transforming it into a surface on which a choreography of swans, re-imagined through domestic materials and practices, comes to life. The swans which inhabit the lake take the form of folded cloth napkins, aluminium wires and taps, redolent of the table decorations that are used for special occasions. Seeing this composition of inanimate objects opens the doors of our imagination. The installation was conceived by the artist specifically for the space at TOAST and was inspired by its glass walls, which suggested the creation of an artwork that could be viewed from outside.

Swan Dance performance dell'artista Svedese Jaana-Kristiina Alakoski

Swan Dance is a performance that was conceived and created by Swedish artist Jaana-Kristiina Alakoski in response to the installation. Guendalina wanted to involve the performer to represent the swan at a kinetic level. As with the installation, the performance concentrates on the role and the characteristics of the figure of the swan in contemporary culture. The dance performance is accompanied by the delicate rhythms of finger cymbals. Above all, the choreography has been inspired by the movement of swans, which us humans interpret as expressions of affection and love, extrapolating these qualities from the physiology and the constellation of muscles that create these patterns of movement. The performance resonates with the history of Western European dance, music and narrative, which romantically mythologises the swan. However, the context of the artistic performance by a single performer changes its impact with the viewer. The public is offered a direct connection and a question of empathy: What would it be like to be a swan?

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Guendalina and Jaana:

Guendalina Cerruti (born 1992) is an Italian artist based in London. After receiving a diploma in Visual Arts at NABA in Milan, she earned a Masters in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London

Through her research she questions the family and the domestic, in terms of aspects that are tied to psychology, language and affectivity, as well as ways of acting and the objects that populate people’s homes and lives.

Guendalina creates installations, compositions of objects, sculptures and images, using everyday objects and taking fresh and instinctive approaches to reconstruct domestic and evocative images and spaces.

Jaana-Kristiina Alakoski

(born 1992) is a Swedish-Finnish artist based in London, where she earned a diploma in Visual Arts at the university of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

In her work, Jaana-Kristiina is interested in performance in the context of social interaction, both online and offline, as inseparable dimensions that host human socialisation. Jaana-Kristiina questions the formation and philosophical analysis of the self, in relation to the symbolic codification and decoding of boundaries, the body, actions, things and materials. It is a constant negotiation between states of being within a social, emotional, political and physical reality.