The Impulsive Traveler: An art weekend in Philadelphia
by Robert DiGiacomo, for The Washington Post
I made several stops at Philagrafika, the first of what’s meant to be a triennial show presenting printmaking on paper, on film and through installations. The ambitious undertaking is on exhibit at 88 venues, including five that have collaborated on the core exhibition, dubbed “The Graphic Unconscious.”
Among those five locations are Moore College, home of the aforementioned bugs, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, whose ornate, Victorian-era building is the unlikely setting for a stop-motion video by the Indonesian collective Tromarama. The film clip, like many of the works shown at “Philagrafika,” seeks to expand the definition of prints. It was made with a series of woodcuts used in traditional printmaking that have been “turned” at a rapid pace to animate the piece, which is set to a rock tune. The clip is much more entertaining than anything you might see on MTV, if it still showed videos.
Another major component of “Philagrafika” is “Out of Print,” in which five contemporary artists have been matched with five of the city’s institutions, where they have used the historic collections to make a new work. At the Rosenbach Museum & Library, for example, contemporary artist Enrique Chagoya has put a new spin on a 19th-century print called “The Head Ache.” Chagoya substitutes the face of Barack Obama for the man in the George Cruikshank original as a commentary on today’s health-care debate, which has been enough to make anyone reach for the aspirin.
Given the scope of Philagrafika, you’ll have to pick and choose what to see based on location and your interests. Keep in mind that many venues are free and are quick hits that you can view in no more than 15 minutes….