The citywide public art project will run from Sept. 16 to Nov. 19, with works on display in five William Penn Center City squares and five neighborhood parks, along a home-base at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. 2017 marks the first year for the expanded Monument Lab, which launched in City Hall's courtyard in 2015.
This year's exhibition asks participating artists to answer the question "What makes a monument in the 21st Century?" through nonpermanent art installations of their own design. Topics for installations range from immigration and opioid addiction to indigenous history and gentrification. Mural Arts Philadelphia will announce the complete list of projects in the spring.
The nine-week exhibition will feature work from 22 notable local and international artists, including Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss, and Detroit painter/sculptor Tyree Guyton. Others include Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera, Philly video outfit Klip Collective, Berlin sound artist Emeka Ogboh, and Ontario installation artist Duane Linklater.
Public art fans can find those artists' work, as well as the work of a roster of other artists, at 10 locations throughout Philadelphia: City Hall, Franklin Square, Washington Square, Logan Circle, Rittenhouse Square, Penn Treaty Park, Vernon Park, Norris Square Park, Malcolm X Park, and Marconi Plaza. There also will be a Monument Lab exhibition space at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
The installations will include interactive pop-up "laboratories," which Mural Arts Philadelphia says it hopes will foster conversation and research around art and the topics the exhibitions address. Staff will be on hand at all locations to collect proposals from exhibition-goers for future Philadelphia monuments — an element of the 2015 Monument Lab that prompted more than 400 submissions, according to the Philadelphia Center for Architecture.
In addition to the pop-ups, each exhibition site will host weekend events. Panels, tours, parties, and talks are to be scheduled throughout the week.
"Our curators have assembled an inspiring list of artists to come to Philadelphia and express a wide range of visions that reflect on our city's history and imagine our future," said Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, in a release. "Mural Arts is excited to bring this work to the public and engage everyone in discussing critical issues facing our city today."
Monument Lab is organized by Mural Arts Philadelphia and curators Paul Farber, Ken Lum, and A. Will Brown. The full list of participating artists for 2017 is below: