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September 30, 2011 to December 30, 2011

Miss Rockaway Armada: Let Me Tell You About a Dream I Had

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For their fall 2011 project with the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Let me Tell You About A Dream I Had, artist collective the Miss Rockaway Armada created a flotilla of several sculptural elements composed entirely from recycled and salvaged materials to be utilized in outdoor, public parades and festivals before being transformed into an interactive installation inside the galleries at the PAA. In addition to exploring the manipulative nature of art, Let Me Tell You About A Dream I Had also embodied the contemporary grassroots approach to crafts.

The first public event by the Miss Rockaway Armada introduced Philadelphia audiences to the sculpture and performances of their collective work “Let Me Tell You About a Dream I Had.” The Armada artists worked together to construct sculptural flotillas out of scavenged and repurposed materials to demonstrate that art and creativity can flourish within the constraints of sustainability. On August 21 and 22 at the Walnut Street Docks, the Armada artists staged musical performances, aerial acrobatics, shadow puppetry, and spoken word performances using their sculptures as a floating stage set. Audience members of all ages were invited to tour the flotillas themselves, test out the bicycle-powered Ferris wheel, and talk with the artists about the creation of this project.

On September 3, the Armada staged a bicycle parade from the build site where they originally constructed their sculptures in Center City to University City’s Clark Park. Performances were staged along the way and participants (both Armada artists and Philadelphia residents) rode bicycles decorated for the occasion. A musical performance was staged at the final destination in Clark Park and was organized as part of the 2011 Philly Fringe Festival. On September 10, they staged a second parade through the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. The parade itself was enlivened with Vaudeville-inspired performances, and Armada artists staged a performance at FLUXSpace, the final destination.

The culmination of the project was the exhibition in the Art Alliance galleries. The exhibition comprised sculptural elements from the performance pieces that the Miss Rockaway Armada built and displayed during the summer entirely re-imagined as a compendium of site-specific installations throughout the Art Alliance building. This project included a catalog with documentation, essays and commissioned prints by the collective as well as a micro-website. This project was supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative and was curated by Melissa Caldwell.

Tags: film, installation, mixed media, performance, sculpture