Whether you’re in town for the Democratic National Convention or have tuned in elsewhere, chances are you’ve seen the large crowd of protestors gathering on a concrete plaza near Philadelphia’s City Hall.
There have been some unusual, to say the least, sights at Thomas Paine Plaza in front of the Municipal Services Building. There’s the two-year-old alpaca that’s been making its rounds in Philly. There’s Philly Jesus, dancing as a Phil Collins song blares through the speakers.
But what’s with the huge Monopoly and Parcheesi pieces?
Turns out it’s a 20-year-old art installation that’s been thrust into the national spotlight during the DNC. Since 1996, the Thomas Paine Plaza has been home to the art installation "Your Move." The city commissioned the artwork, which includes over-sized dominoes, chess and bingo pieces, and other game pieces scattered all over the plaza. The pieces are made of steel, concrete, polyurethane paint, and fiberglass.
A visit to Thomas Paine Plaza yesterday revealed children perched precariously on top of over-sized game pieces and protestors climbing all over large blue Bingo chips while touting anti-Hilary signs and large paper mache dolls of Bernie Sanders.
"Your Move" was created by a trio of artists named Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White. White said of the art installation, "Games are the mirrors of our paths through life. They symbolize the interaction between people and serve as a point of community, as well as a childhood activity and adult responsibility."
That makes the Thomas Paine Plaza seem like an apt location for protests this week, especially when you couple it with the fact that Thomas Paine was a political activist and author of Common Sense, the pamphlet that encouraged the colonies to seek independence from Great Britain.
Interestingly, though, the plaza has not been the main site of protests in Philly’s history. That would be Dilworth Plaza, the new glossy public space in front of City Hall that sits in plain view across the street from the Thomas Paine Plaza. Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron pointed out before the DNC that since Dilworth Park’s $55 million makeover, the city hasn’t issued a permit for a protest in nearly two years.