PASC 2019 Symposium
Illuminating the 'Invisible City': The Birth of the New in Mid-Century Philadelphia
Friday, Nov. 15, 2019
Kislak Center, 3420 Walnut St., Philadelphia
Taji Ra'oof Nahl, aka TR7, is a Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist whose vocabulary delves into social commentary via historical & futurist aesthetic. Installation, video, performance, soundscapes, sculpture, and painting are utilities that embody poetic & abstract narrative for his oeuvre.
PASC is pleased to present his performance, "Adam Vocabulary Club," as part of our symposium.
Nahl's work has been exhibited extensively, and he was founder & director of the acclaimed Taji Modern Gallery in Philadelphia, circa 1998 - 2009. Nahl also spearheads 2Spiral Art Collective, collaborating with artists of vast disciplines to develop art that explores the transformative elements of compassion, freedom, justice and productive activism. For more about Taji Ra'oof Nahl, aka TR7, visit his website here.
The Philadelphia Avant-Garde Studies Consortium (PASC) was pleased to present its 2019 symposium, Illuminating the “Invisible City”: The Birth of the New in Mid-Century Philadelphia, on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, from 1 to 6 pm in the Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, on the 6th floor of the University of Pennsylvania’s Van Pelt Library.
The focus of the symposium was the upcoming exhibition: Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde. Curated by Sid Sachs, Director of Exhibitions at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, and assistant curator Jennie Hirsh, and funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Invisible City will take place in three venues at the University of the Arts and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from Jan. 21 through April 4, 2020. Unprecedented in its depth and scope, Invisible City will examine the crucial role of Philadelphia in shaping postwar art and culture. This period was one of local art institutional expansion, when the YMHA/YWHA, the ICA and contemporary art markets were built and artists interacted freely with their global counterparts, from Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol to Louis I. Kahn and John Coltrane. During this time, Philadelphia was a “city of firsts,” from Pop Art exhibitions and performance art to innovative art school curricula, architecture, and city planning. Invisible City will include works by major architects, photographers, sculptors, craftspersons, painters and conceptual artists of the period, including Rafael Ferrer, Roy Lichtenstein, Ray Metzker, Ree Morton, Italo Scanga, Denise Scott Brown, and Robert Venturi. The exhibition will also include films, along with ephemeral objects, posters, and pamphlets. Celebrating the region’s performance art history, Alex Da Corte will reinvent Allan Kaprow's landmark happening, Chicken, at the YMHA/YWHA (now Gershman Hall, UArts), where it was originally performed in 1962.
The PASC symposium previewed, enhanced, and illuminated Invisible City, analyzing and engaging with the cultural milieu during this era (roughly mid 1950s to late 1970s). Individuals, groups, and collaborating artists and scholars offered scholarly papers, lightning presentations on artistic and scholarly projects, small-scale exhibitions, and brief performances.
Welcome from David McKnight, PASC Co-Director and Director, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Penn Libraries
Keynote, “Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde: An Introduction (or “Why David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest mentions Narberth, Pa., on page 60)” from Sid Sachs, Director of Exhibitions, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts
Panel Discussion, “Invisible and Illuminating illuminating,” moderated by Mari Shaw, author, collector and intellectual property lawyer, with panelists:
“Thesentür: Conscientious Objector to Formalism series in Conversation with the Henry Charles Lea Library,” exhibition tour and discussion with the artist, Theodore A. Harris
“A Transect through Philadelphia’s Not-So-Radical Architectural Modernism,” William Whitaker, curator and collections manager of the Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design
Performance, “Adam Vocabulary Club,” by Taji Ra'oof Nahl, aka TR7, conceptual artist; followed by discussion
Closing Remarks from John Heon, PASC Co-Director
PASC symposia are free, and all are welcome to attend.
A few photos from the symposium; more to come....