Monument Lab Brings Sweeping Citywide Public Art Exhibition To Philly This Fall

Nine weeks, 20 artists and one question: What's an appropriate monument for Philadelphia?

A “monumental” art exhibition arrives in Philly this fall.

Kicking off Saturday, September 16, 20 new temporary installations will be on view at 12 sites across the city. Collectively entitled Monument Lab, the project aims to answer one central question: “What is an appropriate monument for the city of Philadelphia?”

Each monument will remain on display for a period of nine weeks and is designed to address issues of race, gender, sexuality, class and national belonging.

EXHIBITION FAST FACTS

  • Monument Lab runs September 16 to November 19.
  • The project features temporary installations by 20 artists from across the world.
  • The monuments can be found in 12 iconic public squares and area parks citywide.
  • An array of special events will take place in conjunction with the project.

Overview

Co-produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia and curators Paul Farber and Ken Lum, Monument Lab is made up of works by 20 different artists from around the world, from Berlin to Ontario to Detroit. Eleven of the artists hail from Philadelphia.

Monument Lab
(Photo courtesy Monument Lab)
Monument Lab stretches across a dozen locations citywide. Center City and Old City installation sites include:

  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (the exhibition hub)
  • City Hall
  • Franklin Square
  • Logan Square
  • Washington Square
  • Rittenhouse Square

The project is intended to build civic dialogue surrounding what the next monument in Philadelphia should look like and to reflect back on already inherited monuments in context of the historical message each seeks to portray.

Twenty works of art will be on view at iconic public squares and neighborhood parks throughout the city, ranging from West Philly’s Malcolm X Park to Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park to South Philly’s Marconi Plaza to Germantown’s Vernon Park.

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ historic Furness Building will also house a central exhibition hub featuring images of each of the 20 monuments, along with research displays created by monument proposals collected from Philadelphians and visitors.

Monument Lab
(Photo courtesy Monument Lab)
A curated selection of 20 artists from across the world, including 11 from Philadelphia, crafted the artwork that makes up Monument Lab

The Monuments

The exhibition’s 20 monuments are crafted from stone and bronze, as well as recycled materials, images and sounds. Each seeks to address issues of social justice and solidarity and to open up a dialogue surrounding the significance and impact that a monument can bring to a city.

The installations are spread out across 12 different sites throughout the city, and several encourage hands-on interaction from the public. Check out the interactive map below for more information on each site.

At Franklin Square, find artist Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly, a boombox sculpture that celebrates the city’s rich musical history and allows visitors to produce their own compositions utilizing a public archive of songs and sounds of Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), artist Tania Bruguera takes on the subject of immigration via a sculpture of a child, which will disintegrate from exposure to the elements over time. Bruguera’s piece will then become replaced with new versions fabricated in collaboration with PAFA students.

In Rittenhouse Square, artist Sharon Hayes presents a cement sculpture portraying the absence of women-dedicated monuments in Philadelphia. Entitled If They Should Ask, the piece is modeled after the bases of various existing area sculptures commemorating men and will be encircled with names of women throughout Philadelphia’s history.

Monument Lab
(Photo courtesy Monument Lab)
Monument Lab locations beyond Center City include:

  • Penn Treaty Park
  • Vernon Park
  • Norris Square
  • Malcolm X Park
  • Marconi Plaza
  • A Street and East Indiana Avenue
  • 42nd Street and Lancaster Avenue

Other visuals of Monument Lab include a one-night-only event by light artists Klip Collective, a look at Philadelphia’s “stoop culture,” a video scavenger hunt that winds you through the city and a massive mural of clocks on a former factory in Kensington.

To learn more about the 20 Monument Lab artists and the temporary installations they’ve created, click here.

Events

More than two dozen events will unfold at locations citywide alongside the public display of Monument Lab.
From artist talks to a poetry night to a DJ-spun dance party, a wide range of happenings are set to unfold in celebration of the nine-week project.

Each weekend also brings Saturday Spotlight, a three-hour afternoon pop up of music and food at rotating monument locations.

For a full list of Monument Lab events, click here.

Spend some time over the next two months checking out the thought-provoking installations and then reflect back: What should the next monument for Philadelphia be?

Monument Lab

When:September 16-November 19
Where:12 sites citywide, including an exhibition hub at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts' Furness Building, 118-128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia
Cost:Free

www.monumentlab.muralarts.org

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