In Galleries and Neighborhoods This Spring: Horticultural Society Spotlights Urban Farming, Mauricio Kagel's Zwei Mann Orchester, Penn Museum’s Reimagined Middle East Galleries, and More

18 Apr 2018


The Summer Winter Community Garden at 32nd and Summer Streets in Philadelphia, a community garden supported through Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). Photo courtesy of PHS.


Ulises. Photo by Ricky Yanas.


Visitors at Penn Museum’s Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq around a work by Syrian-born artist Issam Kourbaj. Photo courtesy of Penn Museum.


Mauricio Kagel, Zwei Mann Orchester, installation shot. Photo courtesy of Bowerbird.


Tomie Arai, Swirl, 2003, presented through Asian Arts Initiative’s Chinatown In/Flux exhibition. Photo courtesy of Asian Arts Initiative.


Composite image of dolls by artist Trenton Doyle Hancock. Photo courtesy of Temple Contemporary.

Spring is here, with a range of exciting Center-supported exhibitions and public programs on offer: from site-specific public art and an urban garden in the center of Philadelphia, to interactive installations, and newly commissioned works. See our roundup below, and visit our events calendar for more.

Penn Museum’s Middle East Galleries Re-Opening
April 21–22

The Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania unveils its renovated Middle East Galleries as part of a multi-year transformation of the museum designed to enrich the visitor experience, supported by a Center Advancement grant. The new 6,000-square-foot suite of three galleries explores life in the Mesopotamian world, from early writing and record keeping to burial practices, transportation, agriculture, cooking, and the arts. Exhibition space has been expanded to accommodate over 1,200 artifacts, many that have long been held in storage. An opening festival will be held April 21–22, featuring performances by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and the Turkish American Friendship Society Choir, talks by curators of the Middle East Galleries, calligraphy workshops, and more.

Publishing As Practice
Through July 31

Curator Kayla Romberger presents Publishing As Practice, a three-part residency program, hosted at Ulises bookshop that explores publishing as an incubator for new forms of editorial, curatorial, and artistic practice. The first residency (April 7–30) features artists Clara Balaguer and Kristian Henson of Hardworking Goodlooking, a social practice platform for artists, designers, and writers. Public events involve listening exercises, open studio time with the publishers, and performances. In June and July, residencies continue with interdisciplinary artist Martine Syms of publishing imprint Dominica, followed by Negar Azimi and Tiffany Malakooti of Bidoun—an art and culture magazine focused on the Middle East. Click here for a full list of public programming.

Sound Machines: Kagel’s Zwei Mann Orchester
May 3–31

Bowerbird presents an exhibition and performances in Sound Machines: Mauricio Kagel's Zwei Mann Orchester (Two Man Orchestra). On view at Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery, the centerpiece of the exhibition is a large-scale kinetic sound sculpture conceived by Kagel that utilizes orchestral instruments, and household and found objects, connected through a network of levers and strings to encourage the viewer to imagine the hidden sound potential. An opening reception will be held May 3, 5-7 p.m. During the run of the exhibition, Bowerbird will present six performances of Zwei Mann Orchester. See the full performance schedule here.


Mauricio Kagel, Zwei Mann Orchester, installation shot. Photo courtesy of Bowerbird.

(ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence
May 3–Summer 2018

Asian Arts Initiative presents six newly commissioned works created by Asian American artists, on view across Philadelphia, that reflect on the city’s rich and layered narratives and its changing neighborhoods. Marking the organization’s 25th anniversary, (ex)CHANGE incorporates an installation of lanterns and a large-scale balloon that addresses a collective wish for peace by poet and Pew Fellow Sueyeun Juliette Lee, and a new video projection by filmmaker and Pew Fellow Rea Tajiri about the Philadelphia Hostel of 1944, a transitional home for Japanese Americans who were resettled following the internment camps of WWII. Further collaborators include Tomie Arai and the artist collective Chinatown Art Brigade, visual artist Shahzia Sikander, photographer Boone Nguyen, and composer Byron Au Yong. Explore the full list of events.

From a Black Son to a White Man to a Black Woman and Back Again
May 10–July 27

Temple Contemporary at the Tyler School of Art commissions visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock to create new work in an exhibition examining the representation of race in the material culture of toy dolls. The exhibition presents a set of 500 original dolls created by Hancock, alongside his own collection of white dolls collected over the past 20 years, and black dolls from the Philadelphia Doll Museum. In tandem with the exhibition, a Young Curators Council is developing public programming, in consultation with the artist, as part of a paid curatorial mentorship program for five selected participants, aged 17-21.


Composite image of dolls by artist Trenton Doyle Hancock. Photo courtesy of Temple Contemporary.

Farm for the City
June 15–September 30

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) Farm for the City transforms center city Philadelphia’s Thomas Paine Plaza into a temporary, 2,000-square-foot “farm-as-art installation” to encourage public conversations about the role of urban agriculture in strengthening communities. Over the course of four months, the farm’s raised bed gardens will grow an estimated 1,000 pounds of produce, which will be donated to Broad Street Ministry, a nearby community service organization dedicated to serving the homeless. A series of public forums, gardening workshops, and performances will offer the public a chance to explore issues surrounding healthy food access, social equity, and more.