The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts kicked off on Friday night with an eye-catching exhibit called Article 13 at Penn's Landing. Here is a little blurb on the show/exhibition:
"Equal parts installation, spectacle, and documentary, Article 13 is a large-scale story made out of small stories in a constant state of evolution, based on current events related to immigration. A collaboration between Compagnie Carabosse (France) & Teatro Linea de Sombra (Mexico), Article 13 is a memorial to the thousands of migrants who have disappeared and at the same time it gives back human face, flesh and identity to the anonymous ones lost in search of a better world.
The memorial, made of sand and fire, personifies the scope of the phenomenon of immigration through the non-traditional presentation of statistical data, economic evidence, geopolitical aspects, the forms of those who have disappeared, and how things relate to each other. Along this path of inhabited installation, audiences are touched by words, snatches of conversation, and accounts given by migrants; providing seemingly lost perspective that these people — before they were statistics, or a number of 'disappeared' in the media, or even dangerous suspects — before all else, are human beings." (source)Immediately after entering the gates to the outdoor exhibit, we saw these wooden statues 'walking' through bits of sand, surrounded by candles. Through the speakers, we could hear the voices of men and women with accents specific to the native lands telling their stories of wanting to make a better life for themselves-- having a dream and wanting to fulfill it. This resonated with me as I myself am an immigrant and the daughter of one. My mother told me stories of leaving Jamaica when I was 10 months and coming to America to make a better life for herself and her children. I am sure that most migrants share this story of hope and desire. This is also a relevant topic since immigration is such a hot button topic these days.
As we walked into the main exhibit, we were coming upon the finale (gahh! finding parking downtown is the worst!). Every section of the lot had a fire pit of some sort set up. The performers all had a routine that no one seemed to understand initially, but then it began making sense. They doused the clothing in water, slapped it on the fire pit, walked around and showed it to everyone, and then laid it down on the ground. I saw this as symbolism for those people who risked their lives trying to cross the waters-- trying to cross the borders, but they didn't quite make it. The performers made it a point to remember those people. It was not enough to remember those who have made it, but to also remember those who had similar dreams, but were not able to make it a reality.
The exhibit runs until tonight, April 10, 2016. It is completely free. If you are able to see it, then go. It begins at 9pm.