ABOVE PHOTO: ‘Knitting Peace’ performance art by Cirkus Cirkor.
From the collaboration between French and Mexican artists to create a piece that speaks to today’s issues, to world-premiere dances and music, this year’s Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts promises a feast for the senses.
By Denise Clay
Right now, a tree is growing in the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Court.
Once it’s done, it will be an art installation entitled Kinetic Tree. The piece, designed by 2015 MacArthur Genius grant winner Mimi Lien, Tyler Micoleau, and Nick Kourtides, is both an interactive spectacle and a live performance featuring Philadelphia artists.
Kinetic Tree, is just one of the many pieces of art that will be a part of this year’s Philadelphia International Arts Festival, a 16-day, bi-yearly showcase of local, national and international art that begins on April 8 and runs until April 23.
During the festival, the city will literally come alive exhibits, performances and pieces, many of which have never been seen in this country—or in some cases anywhere else—before, said Jay Wahl, artistic director for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the festival’s home base.
“The great thing is that this year, most of what will be at PIFA this year are things that are either having their World or North American premiere,” he said. “Many of these performances have never been seen before.”
And while you need tickets to see these performances, you don’t need cash for all of them, said Crystal Brewe, vice president of sales and marketing for the Kimmel Center. Roughly 75 percent of what’s offered during PIFA is free, she said.
Among the premieres offered during PIFA will be Global Artistry, a series of dances choreographed by artists from Vietnam, Jamaica, the Philippines and the United States and performed by Philadelphia’s own Philadanco, Cirkus Cirkor’s Knitting Peace, which features live music, acrobatics, and recycled yarn, and Sneaker Suites, performed by the Los Angeles-based hip-hop dance troupe Antics and featuring poetry from poet/activist Mark Gonzales.
But the piece that’s probably the showcase of this year’s PIFA is the topical exhibit Article 13. The piece, an artistic collaboration between Companigne Carabossa, a French art company and Teatro Linea de Sombra, uses statistics, sand and fire to put a human and artistic face on the immigrant story, Wahl said.
“It’s the size of two football fields,” Wahl said. “And no one will have the same experience with it. It’s a scrapbook filled with stories of immigrants and immigration. It’s somber, but not bombastic.”
On April 23, PIFA will conclude with a free street festival that combines vendors, street performances, food and music to end the festival on a high note.
About 350,000 people came to the last PIFA, Brewe said.
For more information on the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, and to get tickets for both free and paid events, please go to pifa.org.