“Co-Creating with Swineryy” brought together courses, students, and faculty from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, the School of Information, the Departments of Film, Television, and Media (FTVM), History and Anthropology, and the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) at the University of Michigan during fall semester 2022.
Swineryy is one of South Asia's most beloved comedy accounts on Instagram, featuring short clips of original animated characters. Using Animoji animations on an iPhone, Swineryy has generated a collection of transgressive characters on social media that challenge norms in her country. The creator voices the characters and writes their stories alone.
“I created Swinnery in 2019 but didn’t consistently post until much after that,” says the anonymous comedian from Pakistan. “Artists don't have a strategy or way to develop ideas - it's a mix of instinct, observation, and happens randomly. Just brain-wiring, I suppose. Swineryy was not planned at all.”
The interdisciplinary team helped expand the Pakistan-based comedian and social critic Swineryy’s existing portfolio of social media videos. Project lead and Stamps Professor Rebekah Modrak first became inspired by Swineryy after moderating her panel “Comedy and Power” at the Social Media Influencers and the New Political Economy in South Asia and Africa conference in April.
With the grant, Modrak’s team worked with Swineryy to expand upon the Animoji concept, which is limited to 30-second videos, and develop the cast of characters through costuming, digital sets, and performative interactions. The team used their disciplines to take Swineryy’s globally-recognized “floating head” personalities to a new presentation.
“It was fun to watch Swineryy direct and improvise scenes,” adds Modrak. “The virtual backgrounds by the students were stunning and fit the costumes well -- it seemed as if the digital became more real, and the real materials of the costumes assumed a digital quality. They merged beautifully.”
Swineryy also visited CSAS on November 11, 2022. While speaking at the well-attended lecture series, the comedian showed clips and discussed the inspiration behind it all.
“My intention was and remains to be funny and make people laugh,” said Swineryy. “I would hate for there to be ‘lessons’ for anybody in my work. I am no expert. But I would say that because I am a passionate person and being politically aware is important to me, it seeps into my work. It is not my goal to teach, and my comedy is not limited to just my views.”
You can find Swinerry’s work on their Instagram page.