It’s a conundrum—where to put the baby in the grime—how to remove him from his blanket and place him on anything in this room. This room is what my husband and I get for $99 a night on Trip Advisor at .2 miles from the Philadelphia airport. The hotel sits in a strangled urban desert—a place bereft of tree, water, flow—a sprawl of light and concrete. This is a hopeless place for trapped people, meant to curb the anxiety about the most unnatural of journeys.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “Open Air, Relational Architecture”, 2012. Commissioned by the Association for Public Art, Philad
Twenty-four searchlights, all high-powered, were set on rooftops around Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway last September and October. They were programmed, however, to avoid shining their spotlights on any physical objects: no buildings, no naked windows, no trees. Instead, they glimmered straight up into the sky: twenty-four columns of light responding — here solid, there faint, twitching and beating and sweeping across the sky together, then separating — to the voices of Philadelphia residents.
If it weren’t for its title, you’d be hard pressed to pin down the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story to a location. True to the traditions of theatre and the Hollywood Golden Age, the film’s sets are few and mainly interior. Socialite Tracy Lord teeters on the brink of remarriage, with a catty-charming ex-husband, populist tabloid reporter, and absentee father descending on her parents’ mansion for the occasion. The beloved characters, expertly played by Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, hardly venture beyond their manicured lawns. They speak in their famous transatlantic voices, the fine-bred, trained accents of no town and no country. It sometimes seems that the film may as well have been set on the moon as in Pennsylvania—as long as there could still be fine drawing rooms and elegant patios, of course, for class conflicts play a much more vocal role in the film than regional color. The Philadelphia Story treats place much the way Tracy herself does: when Macaulay Connor asks, “Say, this is beautiful country around here. What is it all, anyway?” Tracy replies flippantly, “Oh, part of our place.” And on the story moves, as dismissive as Tracy herself.
Homesickness for “The Philadelphia Story” and Other Fictions
Last month at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Eliza Stamps, with her collaborator Amy Linsenmayer, unveiled the first edition of The Kiosk—a micro, mobile exhibition space that can be adapted to house a variety of art projects in different locations. Rent-a-Grandma, the premier Kiosk installation, on view through November 25, is a cozy interior where visitors can interact with actual grandmothers.