INVISIBLE river

Last night Jared insisted we bike to the invisible river show on the Schuylkill River off of Kelly Drive. This project spearheaded by ALIE VIDICH has been on my radar for over a year now, but I never gave it much investigation. Mutual friends assured me that it was peaceful and thoughtful. All amazing compliments, but I am never great with my own thoughts, so I assumed my time might be better spent elsewhere.

I was wrong, as I so often am with unfamiliar art. They have a very informative website so I won’t describe it too much but it is what I thought as first glance: girls dancing on boats. The surprise of the whole event was the movement the viewer is expected to do as well by following the yellow brick road sort to speak. Now anyone who read about it would be aware exactly of the timeline which was pretty accurate. They dance on canoes, on an island, by a tree, and hanging from a bridge. They nailed down the sunset and the crowd control. The dancers all matched in culty white winged shirts, and the volunteers were excited and well educated about the project.

As I write this even, its easy to be cynical about its majestic simplicity. Even more so due to my lack of knowledge about dance. There is, as with all public projects, something contrived about 100 people on bikes walking along the river to see slow and precise movements in the heat of the summer, but then you think twenty or fifty people organized this? Pretty awesome. Aside from my amazement it would be unfair not to note its flaws as a visual person. How could we transform this space we all know so much? On one dance they added fabric on a tree reminiscent of some films I shot in high school and came out blurry. I think if they began to control some visual aspects we may truly begin to feel that invisibility the title so forcefully implies.

There, of course, is more. You can pay. $25 bucks will get you on a boat on the river to follow the dancers on their boats, by their trees, and the island, and to the finale which really is a finale, as two dancers move around in air under the Strawberry Mansion Bridge as the sun is almost set, but the shadows still strong enough to appear larger than they really are. From Kelly Drive a fence obstructed the view, but I imagine the glory as two quiet souls flip and sway and become one with a bridge with the same name as one of our worst schools and neighborhoods reminding us what it means to be in this city with all of its many problems.

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