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Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Monument Lab 2017: 20 must-see art installations in Philly

Find dozens of temporary monuments on display in Philly’s parks and neighborhoods

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Monument Lab has come to Philly. The public art exhibition that takes place all over the city asks the question, “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”

It’s an impeccably timed question that’s answered by dozens of artists, from both Philly and all over world, in the form of sculptures, performances, and interactive art installations that can be found in Philly’s parks and neighborhoods from September 13 through November 15.

Here are all of the must-see art installations listed in order from North to South. For a full calendar of events, visit the Mural Arts’s Monument Lab website.

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Vernon Park

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Karyn Olivier’s soaring “The Battle Is Joined” monument is actually the original Battle of Germantown Memorial, just covered in acrylic mirror material. The 20-foot structure is an ode to the American Revolutionary War battle, but Olivier’s take encourages visitors to be closer to their surroundings and history.

Also on display at Vernon Park is Jamel Shabazz’s “Love Is the Message,” a gallery wall that displays portraits of portraits of veterans and local residents. (From now until Veterans Day, keep an eye out for pop-up photo sessions where Shabazz will take free printed portraits.)

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

East Indiana Avenue

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At the corner of East Indiana Avenue and A Street in Kensington, there is an old factory that’s now covered in colorful clocks. It’s a special monument project by artist Tyree Guyton of Detroit’s iconic Heidelberg Project. Painted by Guyton, local residents, and visitors from Detroit, the art installation highlights the importance of our times.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Norris Square

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David Hartt’s “for everyone a garden VIII” at Norris Square is the result of a one-year partnership with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project (NSNP), an organization that provides green space and youth education to local residents. With the help of a youth film crew, Hartt created a film that highlights how Norris Square might like in 50 to 100 years as a forested landscape.

A post shared by David Hartt (@david_hartt) on

Penn Treaty Park

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Artist Duane Linklater is an Omaskêko Ininiwak from Moose Cree First Nation. His neon monument at Penn Treaty Park is an ode to Lenni Lenape Chief Tamanend and reads the words, “as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon, and stars shine.” This phrase was, according to historical accounts, meant to signify how long William Penn and Chief Tamanend’s treaty of friendship would last.

Also on display is another monument by RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency). Plainsight Is 20/20 features an excavator holding a large tree and serves as a metaphor of Philly’s dedication to creating a more sustainable city amid its current building boom.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Lancaster Avenue Project

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At Lancaster Avenue, Brown Street, and North 42nd Street in West Philly, there’s a vacant, triangular lot. Artist Hans Haacke will spend the next few months excavating the site, attempting to unearth a monument “that already exists beneath the surface.”

via Google Streetview

Logan Square

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In one of the city’s original squares, Emeka Ogboh’s Logan Squared: Ode to Philly monument is on display as a series of listening stations. Plug in your own earphones to listen to Ogboh’s poem, which features a snippets of Philly voices. Another sound station is also set up across the Parkway on the Skyline Terrace at the Free Library.

Emeka Ogboh’s poem can be listened to on the Skyline Terrace (shown here) or below at Logan Square.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Franklin Square

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A giant boombox is currently set up in Franklin Square as a monument to Philly’s rich music scene. Artist Kara Crombie created this outdoor music studio that allows you to create your own tune from a selection of musical samples from Philly artists.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

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PAFA serves as Monument Lab’s central exhibition hub, and the site of Tania Bruguera’s Monument to New Immigrants. The so-called incomplete statue is of a young immigrant to Philadelphia and represents the idea that “no matter how old a person is, they need to start over,” according to Bruguera.

A post shared by Monument Lab (@monument_lab) on

Thomas Paine Plaza

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The Frank Rizzo Monument has a new neighbor at Thomas Paine Plaza: Hank Willis Thomas’s “All Power to All People” immediately drew attention when it was installed on Tuesday, September 12 just steps from the divisive Rizzo statue. Thomas’ monument is an 800-pound(!) Afro pick that, in the artist’s words, aims “to highlight ideas related to community, strength, perseverance, comradeship, and resistance to oppression.”

 

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Malcolm X Park

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If you can only make it to Malcolm X Park in West Philly one day, make it Saturday, October 14. That’s when artists DJ King Britt and Joshua Mays will have their one-night-only performance of “Mays, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny.” The artists describe it as a “monumental time portal” that features sounds collected from the neighborhood by local youth, light, and vinyl panels with Mays’ graphic artwork.

Philadelphia City Hall

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Mel Chin’s monument is, well, anyone who wants to stand on top of the two podiums placed in the center of the courtyard. The seven-foot-tall pedestals, which mimic John Wanamaker’s Citizen statue on the west side of City Hall, have the word “Me” written across and are considered living monuments that anyone can stand upon.

If you visit on Wednesday or Friday evenings from 8 to 10 p.m., Michelle Angela Ortiz’s Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking) will be projected onto the gates of City Hall highlighting mothers previously or currently detained at Berks Detention Center, a prison outside of Philly for immigrant families.

Rittenhouse Square

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Did you know that Philly is only home to two monuments dedicated to women? This underrepresentation is in the inspiration of artist Sharon Hayes’s monument “If They Should Ask” in Rittenhouse Square.

Artist Alexander Rosenburg’s “The Built/Unbuilt Square” is also on display at Rittenhouse Square. If you look into one of the two viewfinders installed at the park, you’ll be able to see the park layered with historic images of old gatherings and proposed structures for the square that were never built.

Sharon Hayes’ monument “If They Should Ask” highlights the lack of monuments in Philly dedicated to women.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Washington Square

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To create “On the Threshold (Salvaged Stoops, Philadelphia),” Kaitlin Pomerantz spent months salvaging materials from recently demolished buildings throughout Philly. The final monument in Washington Square is an ode to Philly’s stoop culture, made from the historic building materials.

This park is also the starting point for Marisa Williamson’s “Sweet Chariot: The Long Journey to Freedom Through Time,” an interactive video scavenger hunt that uncovers a series hidden moments in the landscape of historic Philadelphia, focusing on the African-American struggle for freedom.

Kaitlin Pomerantz collected hundreds of materials from demolished buildings for her monument.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Marconi Plaza

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Shira Walinsky and Southeast by Southeast have created an interactive news kiosk that features the stories of immigrant and refugee artists in Philly. There will be materials like recipe cards that you’ll be able to take, too.

If you only have one day to visit, make it Saturday, October 28. Walinsky’s monument will still be on display, and Klip Collective will also bring a one-night-only installation to Marconi Plaza. Like Walinsky’s monument, this will be an immersive installation created as an ode to South Philly’s immigrants.

Vernon Park

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Karyn Olivier’s soaring “The Battle Is Joined” monument is actually the original Battle of Germantown Memorial, just covered in acrylic mirror material. The 20-foot structure is an ode to the American Revolutionary War battle, but Olivier’s take encourages visitors to be closer to their surroundings and history.

Also on display at Vernon Park is Jamel Shabazz’s “Love Is the Message,” a gallery wall that displays portraits of portraits of veterans and local residents. (From now until Veterans Day, keep an eye out for pop-up photo sessions where Shabazz will take free printed portraits.)

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

East Indiana Avenue

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

At the corner of East Indiana Avenue and A Street in Kensington, there is an old factory that’s now covered in colorful clocks. It’s a special monument project by artist Tyree Guyton of Detroit’s iconic Heidelberg Project. Painted by Guyton, local residents, and visitors from Detroit, the art installation highlights the importance of our times.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Norris Square

David Hartt’s “for everyone a garden VIII” at Norris Square is the result of a one-year partnership with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project (NSNP), an organization that provides green space and youth education to local residents. With the help of a youth film crew, Hartt created a film that highlights how Norris Square might like in 50 to 100 years as a forested landscape.

A post shared by David Hartt (@david_hartt) on

Penn Treaty Park

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Artist Duane Linklater is an Omaskêko Ininiwak from Moose Cree First Nation. His neon monument at Penn Treaty Park is an ode to Lenni Lenape Chief Tamanend and reads the words, “as long as the rivers and creeks flow, and the sun, moon, and stars shine.” This phrase was, according to historical accounts, meant to signify how long William Penn and Chief Tamanend’s treaty of friendship would last.

Also on display is another monument by RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency). Plainsight Is 20/20 features an excavator holding a large tree and serves as a metaphor of Philly’s dedication to creating a more sustainable city amid its current building boom.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Lancaster Avenue Project

via Google Streetview

At Lancaster Avenue, Brown Street, and North 42nd Street in West Philly, there’s a vacant, triangular lot. Artist Hans Haacke will spend the next few months excavating the site, attempting to unearth a monument “that already exists beneath the surface.”

via Google Streetview

Logan Square

Emeka Ogboh’s poem can be listened to on the Skyline Terrace (shown here) or below at Logan Square.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

In one of the city’s original squares, Emeka Ogboh’s Logan Squared: Ode to Philly monument is on display as a series of listening stations. Plug in your own earphones to listen to Ogboh’s poem, which features a snippets of Philly voices. Another sound station is also set up across the Parkway on the Skyline Terrace at the Free Library.

Emeka Ogboh’s poem can be listened to on the Skyline Terrace (shown here) or below at Logan Square.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Franklin Square

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

A giant boombox is currently set up in Franklin Square as a monument to Philly’s rich music scene. Artist Kara Crombie created this outdoor music studio that allows you to create your own tune from a selection of musical samples from Philly artists.

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

PAFA serves as Monument Lab’s central exhibition hub, and the site of Tania Bruguera’s Monument to New Immigrants. The so-called incomplete statue is of a young immigrant to Philadelphia and represents the idea that “no matter how old a person is, they need to start over,” according to Bruguera.

A post shared by Monument Lab (@monument_lab) on

Thomas Paine Plaza

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

The Frank Rizzo Monument has a new neighbor at Thomas Paine Plaza: Hank Willis Thomas’s “All Power to All People” immediately drew attention when it was installed on Tuesday, September 12 just steps from the divisive Rizzo statue. Thomas’ monument is an 800-pound(!) Afro pick that, in the artist’s words, aims “to highlight ideas related to community, strength, perseverance, comradeship, and resistance to oppression.”

 

Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Malcolm X Park

If you can only make it to Malcolm X Park in West Philly one day, make it Saturday, October 14. That’s when artists DJ King Britt and Joshua Mays will have their one-night-only performance of “Mays, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny.” The artists describe it as a “monumental time portal” that features sounds collected from the neighborhood by local youth, light, and vinyl panels with Mays’ graphic artwork.

Philadelphia City Hall

Mel Chin’s monument is, well, anyone who wants to stand on top of the two podiums placed in the center of the courtyard. The seven-foot-tall pedestals, which mimic John Wanamaker’s Citizen statue on the west side of City Hall, have the word “Me” written across and are considered living monuments that anyone can stand upon.

If you visit on Wednesday or Friday evenings from 8 to 10 p.m., Michelle Angela Ortiz’s Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking) will be projected onto the gates of City Hall highlighting mothers previously or currently detained at Berks Detention Center, a prison outside of Philly for immigrant families.

Rittenhouse Square

Sharon Hayes’ monument “If They Should Ask” highlights the lack of monuments in Philly dedicated to women.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Did you know that Philly is only home to two monuments dedicated to women? This underrepresentation is in the inspiration of artist Sharon Hayes’s monument “If They Should Ask” in Rittenhouse Square.

Artist Alexander Rosenburg’s “The Built/Unbuilt Square” is also on display at Rittenhouse Square. If you look into one of the two viewfinders installed at the park, you’ll be able to see the park layered with historic images of old gatherings and proposed structures for the square that were never built.

Sharon Hayes’ monument “If They Should Ask” highlights the lack of monuments in Philly dedicated to women.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Washington Square

Kaitlin Pomerantz collected hundreds of materials from demolished buildings for her monument.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

To create “On the Threshold (Salvaged Stoops, Philadelphia),” Kaitlin Pomerantz spent months salvaging materials from recently demolished buildings throughout Philly. The final monument in Washington Square is an ode to Philly’s stoop culture, made from the historic building materials.

This park is also the starting point for Marisa Williamson’s “Sweet Chariot: The Long Journey to Freedom Through Time,” an interactive video scavenger hunt that uncovers a series hidden moments in the landscape of historic Philadelphia, focusing on the African-American struggle for freedom.

Kaitlin Pomerantz collected hundreds of materials from demolished buildings for her monument.
Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts

Marconi Plaza

Shira Walinsky and Southeast by Southeast have created an interactive news kiosk that features the stories of immigrant and refugee artists in Philly. There will be materials like recipe cards that you’ll be able to take, too.

If you only have one day to visit, make it Saturday, October 28. Walinsky’s monument will still be on display, and Klip Collective will also bring a one-night-only installation to Marconi Plaza. Like Walinsky’s monument, this will be an immersive installation created as an ode to South Philly’s immigrants.