The city was chosen to host a three-peat of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) from April 8-23, 2016. There were more than 60 events citywide curated by the Kimmel Center. It featured live performances and exhibits that celebrating art inspired by the theme We are what we make.
The kickoff event was Article 13. It transformed Penns Landing into an interactive art installation to highlight the worldwide plight of immigrants. I joined thousands who trudged through darkness and weaved around shuffling wooden sculptures. Finally, we reached fields ringed by fire pots and water jugs. There we listened and saw what it was like to live as a Mexican flower picker, a Chinese peddler and more. It was a powerful and haunting experience.
I was impressed by the number of free events such as the twice-daily performances of Kimmel’s Kinetic Tree Sculpture.
Another highlight was Knitting Peace. The Cirkus Cirkor dancer acrobatics created 3D knitted sculptures that ultimately filled the stage. Check out their You Tube Video. The Merriam Theater was covered in a dazzling variety of white knitted pieces. Knitting covered the outside lamppost, to the walls, ceilings and theater stairways.
Huge Street Fair
The finale was a massive street fair spanning Broad Street from City Hall to the Avenue of the Arts. It felt like Carnivale– from the stilt walkers and the ferris wheel, to the zip line and the crayola-colored field of pianos to play. All of this sprang up amazingly overnight. My favorite performance was by the musical group Squonk from Pittsburgh. Their techno opera Pneumatica, was a tour de force meshing science, art,and spectacle.