Saturday, March 27, 2010

Barbarian Invasions at Crane Arts

Wolfbat Studios - Viking Ship, outside Crane Arts on March 26, 2010

With Philagrafika 2010 entering its final weeks and SGC International in town, what a remarkable time it has been for print in Philadelphia! Wolfbat StudiosViking Ship sat in the parking lot adjacent to the Crane Arts Building last night, poised to parade through the city streets, bringing its pastiche of donated art to the people, and to champion print’s ascendance to the vanguard of Philadelphia’s art scene. This was not a hostile takeover, as the militarism inherent in a Viking theme might suggest; it is a movement that has grown, building momentum through the dedication of artists and organizations like Philagrafika. Think of this as the victory procession.

The Viking Ship also got me thinking about Duke Riley (incidentally, presenting his current project Reclaiming the Lost Kingdom of Laird at The Historical Society of Philadelphia). Last summer he staged Those About to Die Salute You, a modern reinterpretation of an Ancient Roman naumachia (naval battle). An amphitheater, such as the Coliseum, would be flooded so that naval battles could be staged for public entertainment; think of them as gladiatorial combat on boats. Riley’s project pitted teams representing different museums in New York against one another, battling proudly for their respective institutions. If only we could convince Riley to restage this participatory event here in Philadelphia! Perhaps, instead of culling teams from museums, representatives from different art media could battle for dominance, giving print the chance to defend its newfound preeminence.

Video by Keith Ozar

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