Sunday, August 14-Monday, August 15
We got into Philadelphia late on Sunday night and had to leave fairly early on Monday morning, unfortunate, as I really like the city, but it also proved to be an excellent break after a difficult weekend.
After catching up with an old friend late into Sunday night, we woke up Monday morning to walk the city at the beginning of rush hour - strategic for encountering a lot of people, no?
Philadelphia feels a lot like Boston, to me, in terms of its buildings, rush and history. It’s a grey city instead of a tan city, and even though I’ve only visited a few times it feels familiar. Perhaps spurred on by the good feelings of a visit with a dear friend, or the comfort of the home-like feel, I had the highest hopes for the most viewed public performance of the trip. This is where I would focus on the idea of performance, of being viewed, or so I thought. Situating myself right in the middle of Penn Square, against City Hall, the LOVE sculpture, public transportation, and the major rush of adults getting to work on time I began to move inspired by tall buildings, public spaces, the calm I felt within the bustle of a city. My audience strategy failed. Humorously no one that walked by batted an eyelid, and the experience began to circle comedy. At one point a woman passed in such close proximity that we could have made physical contact, but her resolve to stay focused on some spot on the distance was incredible. This sort of thing continued as I kept moving and even when I started to push my focus outwards as I moved, attempting eye contact, groups of people just a foot or two away seemed to not even notice my presence. Two men working in some sort of tourist booth did cheer me on from afar, perhaps because that's where they had to be and it was a break from the mundane? Thanks to them, however, as I truly started to think I'd mastered invisibility and they swiftly brought me back down to earth.
As I continue thinking about the Philadelphia experience I would love to know if the majority of individuals actually noticed and just didn’t acknowledge what I was up to, or if passersby truly didn’t see it. Is there enough rogue art in Philly that it was the norm, or did it make people uncomfortable? Would sound have changed the response? Does context change anything; if I had performed during the Fringe Festival would that be more acceptable or classifiable to those walking by? Am I overthinking everything and people just don't really care that I'm atypically moving my body in public spaces?
I left amused and satisfied. Someday I’ll get to do the Rocky steps.
View video from Philadelphia here.