On the Horizon: 2019 Center-Funded Projects Reimagine Performance Spaces, Illuminate Community Voices, Reinterpret History

11 Feb 2019


World premiere of Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group’s "...they stood shaking while others began to shout," 2018. Pictured: Hadar Ahuvia and Gabriela Silva. Photo by Ian Douglas.

The cultural organizations supported by Center project grants have a wide range of ambitious projects planned for the year ahead. The sampling below showcases upcoming performances, exhibitions, and public programs in the Philadelphia region not to be missed in 2019.

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Reimagining Performance Spaces

Reggie Wilson’s Grounds That Shout! (And Others Merely Shaking)
Partners for Sacred Places
May 2019

A series of performances curated by award-winning choreographer Reggie Wilson will explore relationships among religion, movement, race, and the body, with a focus on the African American religious experience and the specific context of Philadelphia’s historic sacred spaces. Philadelphia-based artists will perform at religious sites along the Lombard Street corridor, host to a unique density of historic churches.

In Motion, In Place: Trisha Brown Dance Company in Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park Conservancy
September 2019

These free, public performances will bring to Philadelphia three of pioneering post-modern choreographer Trisha Brown’s works with the goal of inviting diverse viewers to experience Fairmount Park—one of the largest urban park systems in the world—in an entirely new way.

The School for Temporary Liveness
The University of the Arts
September–October 2019

Staged throughout the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, this eight-day pop-up performance experience is designed to generate new forms of spectatorship and participation. Reimagining theater through the poetic frame of a school, the project will feature performances from Nora Chipaumire and Isabel Lewis and invite audience members to move within three zones: The Library, The Classroom, and Study Hall.


Jo Davidson, "Walt Whitman," 1957, bronze on granite base statue. Photo by Alec Rogers for the Association for Public Art, 2016.

Investigating Artistic Legacies

Whitman at 200
University of Pennsylvania Libraries
Throughout 2019

On the occasion of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday, a region-wide program of cultural events reassess the poet and his impact on art and society. Four new artistic commissions, to come in spring of 2019, from Carolyn Healy and John Phillips, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Pew Fellow Homer Jackson, and Spencer Fitch, plus a special performance by Patti Smith, will examine themes within Whitman’s work and life.

Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul: Radio Documentary
WXPN, University of Pennsylvania
February 1 – March 3, 2019

A year of live performances, interviews, and a multimedia website culminates with the launch of WXPN's Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul radio documentary, broadcast to national audiences. Narrated by gospel singer CeCe Winans and produced by award-winning radio producer Alex Lewis, the four-hour documentary begins with the history and foundation of black gospel and highlights such highly influential artists as Sam Cooke, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Elvis Presley.

Maryanne Amacher: Perceptual Geographies
April 2019

Maryanne Amacher was a pioneering sound artist who created visceral, large-scale installations and multimedia compositions. Through two concert presentations, a performance installation using archival audio and visual materials, and a multi-part workshop, this project will unpack Amacher’s methodology and artistic philosophy and interpret her striking combinations of sound, installation, and architecture.

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde
The University of the Arts
June–August 2019

Invisible City will highlight and explore Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual culture in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in an exhibition, publication, and performances. The project will invite audiences to envision Philadelphia as “a city of firsts,” one that produced the first Pop Art exhibitions, innovations in architecture and urban planning, one of the country’s first rock music magazines, and a substantial post-war growth of art schools.


Zanele Muholi, Bester I, 2015, self portrait, Mayotte. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Examining Identity

The Women’s Mobile Museum with Zanele Muholi
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 
At PPAC: On View Now through March 30, 2019
At Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: On View Now through March 31, 2019

A year-long collaboration between photographer Zanele Muholi, Lindeka Qampi, and ten Philadelphia women concludes with two exhibitions that explore representation, remembrance, and identity. “I didn’t want the space for me in Philadelphia — it’s not my space,” Muholi told Hyperallergic. “There are so many creative minds out there who want an opportunity like this but have never had it.” The culminating exhibitions challenge the social and economic barriers of the traditional art world and ask the question: Who is art for?

America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far
Please Touch Museum
On View Now through September 2, 2019

America to Zanzibar offers an imaginative platform for young children and their families to learn about modern and historic Muslim communities across Philadelphia and the world. Building on a framework developed by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Please Touch Museum's exhibition features historic artifacts and newly commissioned artwork created by Philadelphia-based Muslim artists, as well as immersive 3D environments of Middle Eastern architecture and mosques. “I see myself here,” Philadelphia resident Petra Watson told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I see my family and my community.”

Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, and Banal Presents
The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania
On View Now through December 2019

A three-part project examines the history, present, and future of blackness in America through the work of Carolyn Lazard, Cameron Rowland, Sable Elyse Smith, and Martine Syms. Over the course of 2019, ICA will stage three consecutive exhibitions, allowing the artists and ICA curator Meg Onli to build and respond to one another’s ideas over time. The first installment, Mundane Futures, is currently on view through March 31, 2019. “Privileging the everyday over the speculative and fantastical,” ArtForum writes, “’Colored People Time’ posits our liberatory methodologies, in the world and in the museum, as cyclical, interconnected, contingent, and, at times, ordinary."


An image from Daniel Heyman’s Bearing Witness, an artist’s book about the Iraq War. Photo courtesy of Swarthmore Library.

Illuminating Community Stories

Friends, Peace, & Sanctuary
Swarthmore College
Opening March 2019

Swarthmore College's Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary will bring together book artists and members of Philadelphia’s Iraqi and Syrian refugee communities to create artists’ books that amplify personal narratives of displacement, immigration, and sanctuary.

Hidden Lives Illuminated
Eastern State Penitentiary
August–September 2019

Hidden Lives Illuminated will offer a rare look into daily life inside America’s correctional system through four newly commissioned, animated short films, created by artists living or working in prisons. Each film will be projected onto Eastern State's 30-foot facade for one week, accompanied by a soundtrack that viewers can download to their smartphones.

The Wilma Theater
September 2019

THERE is an adaptation of Lebanese American poet, essayist, and painter Etel Adnan’s book-length poem There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other. The Wilma's interpretation will mine the poem’s themes of personal and community identity, displacement, and political dissonance, and invite audiences to share in what Wilma artistic director Blanka Zizka describes as “a communal contemplation of our existence.”


"Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadephia," 4th Liberty Loan Parade, 1918, Collection of Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.

Revisiting History

Revolution Remix: A South Asian American Sound Tour of Historic Philadelphia
June 2019

Five composers and musicians will create Revolution Remix, a sound tour that explores historic Philadelphia through the lens of South Asian American history. The walking tour will take participants to significant sites in Philadelphia’s historic district that illustrate the overlooked stories of South Asian immigrants who were entrepreneurs, doctors, activists, religious leaders, and more.

David Hartt Commission
Beth Sholom Synagogue
September–December 2019

A newly commissioned, site-responsive, multimedia installation will activate Beth Sholom Synagogue, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed National Historic Landmark. Comprising video, sculpture, music, performance, and other elements, the installation by Pew Fellow David Hartt will offer unexpected ways to experience and interpret a historic site and active space of faith.

Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia
The Mütter Museum
Opening September 2019

Built on data from over 20,000 death certificates of individuals who died from the flu outbreak in the city, this exhibition on the 1918-19 Philadelphia influenza pandemic will reveal personal stories to contextualize historical and public health information. As part of the project, a commemorative parade memorializing the pandemic’s victims will be organized by the award-winning, UK-based artist group Blast Theory.


The Crossing's Seven Responses at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedaral. Photo by Chip Colson.

Considering Human Impact on Earth

Aniara: fragments of time and space
The Crossing
June 20–23, 2019

Based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winner Harry Martinson, this new performance work will consider our relationship to one another, to Earth, and to the passage of time, while exploring the boundaries between theater and choral music. The world premiere will feature a score composed by Pew Fellow Robert Maggio and performed by the 24-member The Crossing choir and the Finnish theater company Klockriketeatern.

Design with Nature Now
June–November 2019

This multipart project will highlight dynamic and visionary approaches to landscape design and development in the face of climate change and urbanization. Taking as its point of departure the landmark 1969 book Design With Nature, the project comprises three parallel exhibitions and related programs focused on expanding the public’s understanding of ecological approaches to design.