The Quiet Circus: River Charrettes

Performative Dialogues curated by Headlong & Philadelphia Contemporary

The Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers have shaped the natural and social environment of the city of Philadelphia, both as metaphors and as sources of power, industry, and beauty. But how do people interact within their built environment? And what impact do natural forces have on our infrastructure and vice versa? Engaging with these questions, Philadelphia Contemporary presents a series of River Charrettes—performances and participatory dialogues—reflecting upon topics raised at four different sites along Philadelphia’s waterfronts and in the performance series The Quiet Circus, conceived by David Brick (Headlong) as an ongoing participatory practice at Washington Avenue Pier and the adjoining Delaware River.

The Quiet Circus: River Charrettes is a collaborative project by Headlong and Philadelphia Contemporary to engage and explore the city’s maritime, industrial, and creative heritage with internationally renowned thinkers and performers. We will create fertile opportunities for invited artists/performers and viewers to build mutual understanding through conversation with each other within Philadelphia’s dynamic, ever-changing landscape.

The Quiet Circus: River Charrettes are free of charge.

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The River Charrettes are accompanying the 15 month long performance series The Quiet Circus which invites audiences and participants alike to engage in a single, ongoing arc of public performances. Initiated at Headlong’s First Friday series, a format that includes lecture, performance and audience participation organized around a single idea, the project has grown into a performance residency at Washington Avenue Pier.

A red boat is floating quietly in the water, promenaders in red jackets are strolling by, and a red sculpture frames the path—coincidence or intention?—The Quiet Circus explores artistic practices of stillness and motion, observation and creation, contemplation and experimentation in everyday life. Through a proliferating set of activities and interventions, The Quiet Circus will carve out bodies in social environments and will trace Philadelphia’s immigrant and maritime heritage at the Delaware River. The project is rooted in the belief that movement is natural to the human spirit and that even in the face of our fragmented urban communities, performers and participating audiences can vitally strengthen their mutual understanding in the dynamic yet changeable landscape.

For further information about attending performances and participating in the weekly performances please visit www.thequietcircus.com.

 

River Charrette 3

Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Andalusia, 1237 State Road, Andalusia, PA 19020
Martha McDonald and David Brick

River Charrette 3 takes place in the pastoral setting of Andalusia along the Delaware River. It is just a short distance upstream from the commercial recycling operation that was the site of the previous River Charrette. Andalusia, by contrast, is the bucolic, ancestral mansion and estate of Nicholas Biddle, one of the most significant figures to shape US economic strategies in the early 19th century. President of the Second Bank of the United States, Biddle was a one-man Federal Reserve Bank before the institution existed.

Andalusia was built in response to the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia, in which 10% of the city’s 50,000 inhabitants died and another 20,000 fled within a two-month period. Yellow Fever refugees were denied entry to neighboring towns as well as the major port cities of New York and Baltimore. When the epidemic passed, people with means built homes away from the center of the city. Nicholas Biddle was wealthy enough to make his new home upstream on beautiful grounds along the Delaware River.

Andalusia was built as a refuge from future plagues. Its peaceful gardens and graceful architecture embody the paradox of leaders and elites in our liberal democracy: a simultaneous devotion and unease, even fear, toward the masses that are the lifeblood of the country’s wealth. As a place of manicured beauty, inviting contemplation, Andalusia makes us consider to what degree refuge is related to internal and external geographies.

On June 11th at 4:00 PM interdisciplinary artist Martha McDonald collaborates with David Brick to take audiences on a journey through the grounds of the historic Biddle estate—conjuring the memory of those who sought refuge there and marking the loss of those who could not. Known for her mournful work that summons history to reflect on the present moment, McDonald will join her practice of activating sites through song with Brick’s participatory, contemplative approach to performance. Together, they will invite the audience to attune their senses to the site and to themselves in it. This collaboration further explores the themes of The Quiet Circus, an ongoing public art project taking place at the Washington Avenue Pier in South Philadelphia.

A post performance conversation will address relationships between artistic and contemplative practices from 5:00 to 6:00 PM.

In advance of the performance, Andalusia is opening the historic mansion for guests from 3:00 to 4:00 PM to explore the Biddle Family’s heritage and the foundation’s current dedication.

Martha McDonald, Hospital Hymn: Elegy for Lost Soldiers (2015), Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. Photograph by Ryan Collerd.

Martha McDonald is an interdisciplinary artist whose performances and installations feature handcrafted costumes and objects that she activates through gestures of making and unmaking and singing to transmit narrative. Her work has been shown internationally, at venues including Brotfabrik, Berlin, Germany; Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne, Australia; and the Tamworth Textile Triennial, Australia. Nationally, her work has been presented at The Joyce SoHo and PS 122 in New York; Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC; and in Philadelphia at the Institute of Contemporary Art, RAIR, and The Woodlands, among others. McDonald has received fellowships from MacDowell Colony; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; and Independence Foundation. She received a MFA from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She is currently developing a new project at Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center in Asheville, NC. www.marthalmcdonald.blogspot.com

Andalusia, home to generations of the Biddle family for more than 200 years, is a historic house museum and gardens overlooking the Delaware River, 13 miles upstream from Philadelphia. The 100 acre property features a Greek Revival mansion designed by architect Thomas U. Walter in 1834, and is surrounded by spectacular gardens and native woodlands. Andalusia was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks in 1966 and opened to the public in 1980. www.andalusiapa.org

Andalusia

Past Charrettes

+ River Charrette 1

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19143
Eiko Otake, Alan Greenberger, Harry Philbrick, and David Brick
Visit our Project Gallery for more performance images.

In light of Bartram Garden’s exceptional history as a natural refuge in the midst of the booming oil transportation and refining infrastructure, the first River Charrette is a combination of a brief outdoor performance by internationally celebrated dancer Eiko Otake (Eiko & Koma), who will lead participants from the large meadow at the boating pier through the woods to the sloping field on the banks of the Schuylkill River. The performance is followed by a conversation between Eiko and former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger (Drexel University), whose leadership was integral to the City’s current growth and who led the effort to significantly transform the Schuylkill River waterfront. The conversation will be moderated by Harry Philbrick (Philadelphia Contemporary). David Brick (Headlong) will join in the conversation.

The garden’s complex environment is backdrop and basis for a critical conversation which will touch on themes in The Quiet Circus’ and Eiko’s work: the vulnerable but strong human body in culturally shaped landscapes, the interplay of nature and planned environments, and how urban development ultimately confronts larger forces of natural and human interaction.

Born and raised in Japan, Eiko Otake is a New York-based movement artist, performer, and choreographer who for over 40 years has worked with Koma Otake as Eiko & Koma. Always performing original choreography, Eiko & Koma have been honored with prizes such as a double Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), the United States Artists Fellowship (2006), the MacArthur Fellowship (1996), the Samuel H.Scripps American Dance Festival Award (2004) and the Dance Magazine Award (2006). In October 2014, Eiko inaugurated her solo project: A Body in Places with the performance of A Body in a Station at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

Alan Greenberger is Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Architecture & Interiors of Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design as well as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. Mr. Greenberger was the Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, as well as Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and Director of Commerce for the City. Prior to that, he was in private practice as an architect and planner with MGA Partners and its predecessor, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects.
 During his 34 years in private practice, he was the principal designer on numerous architectural, urban design and planning projects.

Harry Philbrick is Founding Director of Philadelphia Contemporary. From 2011 to 2016, Philbrick was Director of the Museum at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and from 1996 to 2010 Director of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, where he led the Museum’s expansion into a new exhibition space, education center, and sculpture garden.

Eiko30thStreet-13
Eiko Otake, Documentation of A Body in Places, 2014. Image by William Johnston

+ River Charrette 2

Saturday, April 8, 2016 at 4PM
RAIR (Recycled Artist In Residency), 7333 Milnor Street, Philadelphia, PA
Maiko Matsushima, Billy Blaise Dufala, and David Brick
Visit our Project Gallery for more performance images.

In April Philadelphia Contemporary and Headlong invited the public to a Silent Walking Tour and interactive Performance Dialogue at RAIR (Recycled Artist In Residency). Presented amidst demolition waste and recycling materials, the second River Charrette addressed sustainability issues against a backdrop of the gritty urban industry near the banks of the Delaware River.

Maiko Matsushima and Billy Dufala (inside the excavator) playing The Landscape Game during River Charrette 2

RAIR is a nonprofit organization that builds awareness about sustainability issues through art and design. Situated inside a construction and demolition waste recycling company in northeast Philadelphia, RAIR offers artists studio space and access to more than 350 tons of materials per day. Since 2010, RAIR has provided a unique platform for artists to work at the intersection of art, industry and sustainability, while producing content that challenges perceptions of waste culture. More information can be found at rairphilly.org

Billy Blaise Dufala is a Philadelphia-based artist and musician engaged in a wide variety of creative discipline. He is a co-founder and director of residencies at RAIR (Recycled Artist In Residency), offering artists access to over 350 tons of waste a day, a studio within the recycling center to work in and on what the industrial back end of the city’s redevelopment looks like in terms of trash. Dufala is best known in Philadelphia for his ongoing collaborative practice with his brother Steven, known as the Dufala Brothers. The brothers work in variety of media, approaching sculpture, theater, performance, music, digital media, design and good old-fashioned drawing while exploring concepts of use-value, sentimentality, exaggeration and shelf-life through an sometimes absurd and trash-picked lens. He co-founded and was part of Traction Company, an artist cooperative and sculpture studio in West Philadelphia from 2005-2016. Currently, he teaches a class on found materials at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Maiko Matsushima is a costume designer as well as Production Designer and Lecturer at Bryn Mawr College. Matsushima has been designing for theatre, dance, opera and film in NY and regional theatres. Most recently her designs have been seen at Philadelphia’s The Wilma Theater, My Wonderful Day, Proliferation of the Imagination, and The Understudy. Other designs include Twelfth Night (Pig Iron Theater Company), Takes (Nichole Canuso Dance Company), Chicken (Charlotte Ford) at Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, THIS (Playwrights Horizons, NY), Rescue Me (Ohio Theatre, NY), More (Headlong) and may others. She has also worked as an associate costume designer on Broadway productions such as Spring Awakening, Radio Golf, Lestat, Assassins, Good Body and Pacific Overtures, and Wicked in Japan.

David Brick is Co-Director of Headlong, a platform for performance and art research based in Philadelphia; and Director of the Headlong Performance Institute, an immersive training program for creating experimental performance. He collaborates broadly in creating performance, participatory installations and community. His current work includes the ongoing project The Quiet Circus which invites you to attend and participate on Saturdays at The Washington Avenue Pier along the Delaware River in Philadelphia and includes The Quiet Circus: River Charrettes, Performative Dialogues curated in collaboration with Philadelphia Contemporary.

 

Major support for The Quiet Circus has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the William Penn Foundation. The River Charrettes are kindly supported by Bartram’s Garden, RAIR, The Andalusia Foundation, and Fairmount Water Works.