/futures apr 22 '17
The tension in our bodies, sparked by the future’s difference from the present, is the precursor to art. You see something that isn’t there, and then you create it. At the nexus of uncertainty and competence, all this energy & vision & where can it be put?

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, as a keeper of history, is a residence for such stories transformed into engraved gestures, scraps of fabric, splashes of paint and more.

I have always been more taken with the idea of art as a product of relationship rather than a product of individuality. Relationship with people, with ideas, with objects, with the container called society. The art reveals the contours of that relationship either consciously, through its own curated self-reflection, or unconsciously, in little details of its process that shine through. Like tensions held in the body, before the vision commits to the material realm.

And the world is always turning. One Thursday long past, I went to look at a bus. While a failure, like all artistic failures it informed a future attempt and committed a story to the palimpsest of stories that comprise the Philadelphia Assembled public art piece. I moved heaven and earth for a dream and a deadline – because no one else would – and ended up meeting neither. Romantic, artistic, in a doomed sort of way.

The next day, Friday, I marched in the evening against police brutality. Perhaps spurred by the Trump administration’s public commitment to “law and order” policy, the march ended in brutality. Many people were sprayed with pepper spray and hit with batons, and I received a mild head injury. Please note, the passive voice used here. Avoiding directly accusing the PPD of assault seems important for the collective endeavor of this art project. (Judge, this isn’t representative that the police did these things, the blog post simply claims that these things occurred).

The following Monday, I went to a Futures planning meeting, bruises fresh on my scalp. In this particular realm of public art, meetings are the all-important sketches and studies. They’re serving as the moments when vision first encounters materiality. As artists, we are all learning along the way.

The Trump administration recently signaled its intention to do away with the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. The keepers of culture have been able to make their living on apolitical islands, and there may be the notion that great art manifests, fully-formed from the heads of geniuses. As if no artist ever had their head bashed in.

I am realizing that, as a body moving through Philadelphia Assembled, its final outcome cannot help but include my life and all its myriad relationships, and those of the hundreds wrapped in its web.

-Marlon MacAllister