Inspired by the academies of ancient Greece and Byzantium, the new Temple Library is designed to create pleasurable–and hence optimal–learning experiences. The visual anchor of the building will be an updated take on a characteristic element of Classical architecture–the oculus, a round opening centered in the dome of a building. Like a latter-day Roman Pantheon, the new Temple library will have a giant oculus in the center of its 3-story atrium that will allow natural light to permeate the 225,000 square-foot structure and orient visitors no matter where they are inside the building.Read More
This monograph is an invaluable record of Jonas’ work. Along with that on Schneemann, above, they offer two crucial pioneering artists’ solutions to a very current question: the ephemerality of performance art and the possibility of extending the life of the form without distorting the artist’s ideas.Read More
Could there be a better escape vehicle than a nostalgia-infused augmented reality app populated with cuddly cute fantasy deedle-doos and whippy-wongs? Instead of going outside and actively confronting racial and economic disparities, let’s go outside and confront this Snorlax! Instead of meeting strangers and friends to reflect and discuss our experiences of race, let’s discuss these Pikachus! We are like the scared children on the airplane who refuse to focus on the harsh and seemingly terrifying realities of our situation and instead have been given an iPad by our parents. But as adults, we alone are to blame for this shameful compromise, an indulgence of distraction that immobilizes the raw introspection and societal movement that is our responsibility. All of us Pokémon Go users aren’t looking to catch them all; we are desperate looking to forget them all.Read More
The integration of the visual and the visceral was particularly successful in “Bonzi,” whose titular character (dancer Edgar Anido) is a traveling salesman who leads a humdrum life trying to sell people things they neither want nor need. At the start of the performance, the bowler-hatted Bonzi knocks on a plain white door and sets in motion a series of surreal vignettes involving multiple doors, bowler hats, apples, and eggs–all motifs familiar from the paintings of Magritte. Dancers hiding behind movable doors on casters swirled around the stage, dazzling poor Bonzi as well as the audience. With constant costume changes and the clever use of props, the dancers playfully shift personas from alluring coquettes with quixotic tree-like headgear circling around Bonzi, to a self-contained corps of dancers that largely ignores him. By the end of the performance, Bonzi seems to enter the dancers’ madcap surreal world, leaving behind his heavy black briefcase with unrestrained glee.Read More
This week’s Reader Advisor reflects on the state of law enforcement in our country. As I write this on Friday afternoon I am having a hard time finding any value, context, or urgency in my perspective as a white American. Instead I am going to step aside and let the links speak for themselves. To start, a poem by June Jordan via The Poetry Foundation.Read More
Rosa Leff’s papercuts push the boundaries of the two-dimensional world. Inspired by children’s books and political cartoons, her illustrations are painstakingly crafted shape-shifters that trick the eye, at times evoking a relief print with fine line work and deep contrast. It’s upon close inspection that the separation of the cut image from it’s backing creates a landscape of shadows that makes the work reside in neither the two nor three-dimensional realm.Read More
The “way markers” come, as one would expect, from Tobias’s visceral responses to his walk along the path and are designed to tickle your ears, nose, and skin, as well as your brain. You experience more than you see, depending on the weather and how open you are that day.Read More
One of the most unconventional places to view art this summer is the cruiser Olympia, docked on the Delaware River. Commissioned in 1895 and now part of the Independence Seaport Museum, Olympia is the oldest steel warship still afloat in the world–and now it is playing host to sculptural installations that show up in the most unlikely spaces, from officers’ cabins to bathrooms to the galley kitchen.Read More
The creation of “spaces” is an often-invoked mechanism in cultural documents, reports, and applications. It is a quick and effective literary tool that helps illustrate project benefits that might not be easily accounted for or evaluated. This turn of phrase also nicely references the most current and prominent tactic (or buzzword) within non-profit community cultural engineering called “placemaking,” which describes efforts that seek to revitalize communities through the reinvention and reorientation of public spaces. Taking a longer consideration of “space creation” has led me to this week’s links. Specifically, how do we effect our environments through actions alone? Can a physical space be altered by non-physical means? These questions plus more in this week’s Reader Advisor.Read More
Gustavsen arrived in Philly with his trio–longtime drummer Jarle Vespestad and German-Afghan vocalist Simin Tander–to perform cuts off his new album entitled “What Was Said.” The musicians served up a diverse platter of musical and linguistic customs. Gustavsen’s understated piano playing sounded like lights flickering on and off (each key actually lit up each time it was touched!), drawing us in closer to observe what was taking place. Just as subtle was Vespestad, who drummed with beautiful restraint while exploring the percussion’s range.Read More
What will the future bring? Will it be bliss or apocalypse? Imagining the future has always been a means of actively processing the history of the present. In 1895, H.G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine critiqued labor and class conditions of the day by transporting his protagonist to a future ruled by bloodthirsty proletariat mutants feeding off the waifish decedents of the aristocracy. In the racially charged climate of 1966, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek envisioned a future where the races worked side by side to seek out new civilizations and new sexual conquests. Perhaps most strikingly of all, in the 1980s and ’90s Octavia Butler provided an alternative to the stagnantly white male visions of the future and created stories that were sculpted by the past and current oppression of women and blacks. So for this week’s Reader Advisor I offer few links that examine how we shape the future and how our projections shape the here and now.Read More
Despite all the technical know-how that goes into producing this work, there is something distinctly painterly about Portlock’s approach to image-making. and his futuristic landscapes owe a great deal to the golden age of American landscape painting in the nineteenth century. What separates Portlock’s work from the Hudson River School’s optimism is the artist’s pragmatic engagement with the difficult issues facing many American cities in the 21st century, such as the growing socioeconomic divide between rich and poor, the housing crisis, and environmental degradation. He presents a vision of Philadelphia that is terrifyingly realistic, for depending on where you live, litter-filled streets and boarded-up buildings are all too familiar. As a new resident, I still see the scars of poverty and gentrification that crisscross the city, but exposure and familiarity can blunt the impact of painful reality. Bringing together historical references, contemporary issues, and digital technology, he helps us to see our city with new eyes.Read More
Hello everyone. Your Reader Advisor is back after a long hiatus. I wish I could be returning on a happier note but unfortunately that doesn’t really seem possible any more. After 49 people were simultaneously murdered last week for being themselves, myself like innumerable others, have been feeling a lot of feelings. In fact sometimes I get the impression that the only time our country really collectively “feels” or expresses emotions is after a mass shooting or a mass sporting event. But these outpouring of emotions have become so routine that even politicians are calling into question our sincerity. So this week I offer an examination of how our collective expressions of grief (and love) are coming under new and important scrutiny.Read More
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