we left Fletcher Street mid-afternoon and hiked through the city to the Institute for Contemporary Art in West Phil. Harrell was to give a lecture in the auditorium at 6:30. I was really nervous. part of my job prior to Harrell’s visit was to hype the public talk, make sure there was a healthy public to talk to. Philly is weird in the summer – everyone seems to leave. a lot of my pals from school go home when class gets out in May. what if people didn’t show?
I had posted the details of the talk everywhere I could; I had carpet-bombed the city with posters; I had made events on Facebook and told friends to invite their friends; I talked about it during breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all – but what if it wasn’t enough? a poor turn-out would not bode well for the rest of the week. and we still had the open calls to run…
James and I arrived at the venue early. to our surprise and delight, the good folks at ICA had already set up the chairs and the audio/video components. all we had to do was wait. around 5:45 familiar faces began to trickle in. by ten past the room was half of the way full. when Harrell began his presentation, about 70 people were there to hear him. i could let myself relax.
Harrell’s talk was great. he is generally pretty reserved in conversation, but at the podium he has a way of captivating an audience. his talks (i’ve seen three live, i think, and a few online) are marked by series of anecdotes. some of my favorite stories come from his project “learning to love you more.” basically Harrell and writer/artist Miranda July curated a list of tasks and posted them online with specific directions. anyone could participate by completing a task and sending in the required documentation. people took photos of their parents kissing, wrote their life stories in a few hours, and created gardens in an unexpected places. check the stories at the website. Harrell uses these anecdotes as a way into the conceptual aspects of his practice. he addressed his intentions for the people’s biennial and discussed other site visits. overall, a great success!
thanks to all who came out and asked questions!
props to the ICA for being so accommodating and generous with their space. it’s really a nice set up they have. if you ever visit, and I suggest you do, check out their bathrooms. they have really great wallpaper. ICA is located at 36 and Sansom in West Philadelphia. check their website here.