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Innovative public art comes to the Delaware River waterfront

As part of the ongoing effort to re-imagine the Delaware River waterfront as a regional destination, the City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is bringing a large-scale, interactive art installation to the Race Street Pier.  Thanks to a grant from the national creative placemaking accelerator ArtPlace, the installation—tentatively dubbed NET—is set to open to the public next summer.
 
"The idea is a series of interconnected nets that people can literally climb into and experience the waterfront from a suspended location," explains Margot Berg, Public Art Director for the City of Philadelphia. "It’s kind of like a public hammock space."
 
The city is working with Numen/For Use, a Croatian-Austrian design collective, to create the art piece at the Pier. "Our office was familiar with their work and thought it would be appealing to work with them,” explains Berg. "They’ve never done an installation piece outside or in the United States and were looking for such an opportunity. So they were on board with the idea."
 
A big part of the project's appeal was its location on the Race Street Pier and the waterfront in general. "The waterfront is a place where a lot of planning attention is being funneled—where the City is trying to connect people to the place,” says Berg.  "NET will serve as a way for people to experience the waterfront in a new way and make them want to come back over and over." 
 
Berg is hopeful that NET, in conjunction with the new headquarters of the Live Arts/Philly Fringe across the street and the nearby “Race Street Connector” public art piece, will create a ripple effect of investment along the waterfront. "The idea is to capitalize on the momentum in the area and show how art and culture can do that," she adds. 
 
Berg and the artists, in conjunction with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, are still finalizing details and ironing out the assembly logistics for the massive installation (a 30-square-foot cube). The team plans for a June 2013 unveiling and a three month-long exhibition.    
 
Source: Margot Berg, Public Art Director for the City of Philadelphia
Writer: Greg Meckstroth   

This story originally appeared in Flying Kite on Nov. 27, 2012.
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