PIFA’s website is boasting a series of videos on it called The Journey. The Journey chronicles, on film, the process and the path behind several of the brilliant unique-to-PIFA creative collaborations going on. If you didn’t know, Philadelphia is the Mural City of the US. OK, this may be a little hyperbolic, but, Philadelphians might even say… of the world. The Mural Arts Program here in Philly is one of the most dynamic arts organizations on the East coast, and pretty much responsible for the nearly 3,000 murals gracing our city’s buildings, houses, and roofs. In June of this year, MAP and JJ Tiziou will be plastering 50,000 square feet of the Philadelphia International Airport with images of Philadelphians dancing. These are incredible images, and throughout PIFA’s three+ week run, JJ, MAP and PIFA will be digitally projecting some of these images on a large-scale screen, right onto the Kimmel Center’s enormous facade.
How Philly Moves is presented in two installments on the PIFA page, and they’re both a fantastic insight into the workings of an artist. Tiziou not only sees these photographic opportunities for what they are, but also finds the value in projecting real people, with real bodies, on a huge scale for public consumption. Our everyday lives are competing with these big idols of celebrities and advertisements, he says, And so there’s definitely something powerful about saying ‘Hey, let’s make some big powerful images of stuff that’s really important, about the people in our communities.’ The dancers in Tiziou’s series are a veritable rainbow of cultures, bodies, disciplines, ages, and styles; there’s hip-hop, traditional Aztec dance, tap, jazz, free-form, and praise dance, to name a few. And it’s not all about making local celebrities out of Philly’s dance community, it’s about celebrating an art form and taking it in a new direction.
If there is a pair of art forms that is capable of creating new, exciting hybrids, it’s dance and photography. And not only is Tiziou experimenting with what makes an excellent photograph of a dancer, but he’s also playing with the process. He moves, he makes split decisions, he practically dances with his subjects to create a perfect image that reflects the energy and vibrancy of the performer. In his Journey videos, as a spectator, you are brought onto the same level as this local and international hero–you go on a bike ride with him and tour some of his favorite murals (not his own), and you’re allowed access into Tiziou’s studio to see him editing the 3,000 images he captures during one weekend shoot. It’s all just another way PIFA is bringing exciting collaborations, not only to Broad Street (300 Broad, to be precise), but also to your everyday Center City experience. Oh, did I mention this is all free?
Disclaimer: PIFA, the Philadelphia International Festival of Arts, based in the Kimmel Center, is sponsoring the writing of a series of blog posts. Bill Chenevert will be contributing previews and event spotlights leading up to the actual festival, which will take place all over the city of Philadelphia, in numerous venues.