Dan Murphy

30 Nov 2016


Dan Murphy and Anthony Smyrski, a.k.a. Megawords, 2012 Pew Fellows. Photo by Colin Lenton.


Megawords magazine, issues 1–17, 2012. Various offset printing methods and paper. Photo courtesy of the artists.


Spread from Megawords magazine, issue 2, 2006. Photo courtesy of the artists.


Cover of Megawords magazine, issue 3, 2006. Photo courtesy of the artists.

"[Megawords'] practice springs from a place of permeable borders and boundaries, a place of possibility. We seek a new and inclusive way of experiencing culture and we ask the audience to be active participants instead of passive viewers."

Dan Murphy (b. 1976) is one member of the artist duo Megawords, along with Anthony Smyrski.

Dan Murphy and Anthony Smyrski work together as the artist duo Megawords. They are well known throughout Philadelphia for installations that are equal parts gathering space, artist studio, and storefront. In addition, they produce a self-published, biannual print magazine produced in the independent spirit of 1970s punk zine culture. While their practice has a global reach and they have collaborated with other artists internationally, it is deeply rooted in Philadelphia. As Megawords, Murphy and Smyrski have converted an abandoned newsstand in Northwest Philadelphia into an active kiosk, opened a pop-up exhibition and performance space in Chinatown, and organized free film screenings in abandoned lots, among other public projects. "We deplore culture where the audience is expected to sit back passively," they write.

Murphy and Smyrski have expanded the context of their practice in recent years, working with established institutions such as Creative Time in New York City and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. In early 2012, they oversaw an interactive kiosk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as part of the exhibition Zoe Strauss: Ten Years. The pair sees these new partnerships as logical steps in reaching a wider audience, and as an opportunity to challenge traditional notions of what can happen within a museum's space.