NUMEN_SEPT'

Supporting local efforts to activate the waterfront, City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is working with Numen/For Use, a Croatian-Austrian design collective, to create a large-scale interactive installation at the Race Street Pier Park in downtown Philadelphia. The project is still in its very preliminary planning stages and is intended to occur in the summer of 2013.

ArtPlace spoke with Margot Berg, Public Art Director for the City of Philadelphia, about how the project is going:

BERG: Installing a huge climb-through net structure in a public place is a new undertaking for us.  Installing this concept outside is a new undertaking for Numen/For Use; in addition, this will be their first ever project in the United States.  The work that we are doing together now involves assessing the most feasible location – from a liability and practicality perspective – for the NET project to occur.  Our grant proposal to ArtPlace laid out two possible sites along the Central Delaware Riverfront for the project: the Race Street Pier Park and the old Pier 9 building immediately adjacent.  The next several weeks of research – with engineers and other professionals, will help to determine the exact placement and design of the NET structure.  The artists’ idea is to provide an unusual opportunity for people to experience the riverfront from an elevated and suspended location. Since our artists are in Vienna, we do a lot of communicating by Skype and spend a great deal of time going over individual words to make certain that we are understanding each other!

We rely on the help of our partners – inside and outside of City government – to help us plan, to anticipate the questions and the stumbling blocks, and to figure out how to make things happen in their territory.  The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the steward of the land along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, continues to be a wonderful partner in our efforts to bring arts and culture to the waterfront and to weave the arts into the long-range planning for the waterfront.  We each bring unique perspectives and resources to the table, and our work together is mutually-beneficial.

This specific location along the waterfront has become the lynchpin or “poster child” for how to integrate the arts into the new long range plan for the waterfront. It is at this site that we have the new park, the new headquarters of the Live Arts/Philly Fringe (also funded by ArtPlace), and the “Race Street Connector” a public art and design infused connecting street to the Old City neighborhood.  The NET project is designed to integrate with all these other elements to further the public’s recognition of the waterfront as a vibrant place to visit and live. We also recently hosted at City Hall a presentation by DRWC staff, which cited the NET project, to introduce the arts community to how eager DRWC was to integrate visual and performing arts into their plans and help them learn how to “plug in” to the waterfront plans.

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