Lonely Planet Writer

Philadelphia to host major contemporary art exhibition later this year

Philadelphia is rich in American history, but this fall the City of Brotherly Love will transform into a sprawling canvas for contemporary art. Monument Lab, co-produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia, is a public art and history project that will showcase the work of 22 renowned artists in squares and parks across the city.

Avenue of theArts, Philadelphia.
Arts, Philadelphia. Image by Victor Fernandez/Lonely Planet

Famed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei will join artists hailing from Philadelphia and around the world using sculpture, performance, sound, murals, and other media to answer the question ‘What makes a monument in the 21st Century?’ Cuban installation and performance artist Tania Bruguera, for example, will create a piece on the ‘new immigrant,’ while New York City-based photographer Jamel Shabazz will recognise African American veterans. Other works will explore themes including equality, social justice, gentrification, music, and neighbourhood culture.

What #MuralArts public/street art did you snap a photo of this week? Tag us & we’ll repost on #MuralMonday. 📸: @steveweinik

A photo posted by Mural Arts Philadelphia (@muralarts) on Aug 5, 2016 at 3:17pm PDT

‘Philadelphia is the birthplace of American democracy and therefore the perfect venue and backdrop for a project like Monument Lab, which asks critical questions about history—who gets to tell it, how significant people and moments in time are remembered, and what we are leaving behind for future generations,’  Jane Golden, Executive Director and Founder of Mural Arts Philadelphia, told Lonely Planet. ‘We are at a civic and social crossroads of the American story, and high-caliber artists are looking at cities like Philadelphia to help guide the conversation and move it forward. Mural Arts Philadelphia is proud to bring such a talented and diverse pool of artists to the city, and to engage in local and national dialogue on this level.’

The 22 public artworks will span the city, occupying William Penn’s original 5 squares — City Hall, Franklin Square, Washington Square, Logan Circle – originally Logan Square, and Rittenhouse Square, as well as 5 neighbourhood parks. The creations will also feature interactive pop-up ‘laboratories’ to inspire dialogue, and during set hours staff will be on hand to offer information and answer questions. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will act as a central hub for Monument Lab, with proposals for future monuments on display.

The exhibition will run from 16 September through 19 November, 2017.

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