"We're getting there"
Kaitlin Pomerantz of WE THE WEEDS • 2015 • Washington Square
WE THE WEEDS responds to Philadelphia’s unique interplay of landscape and architecture to propose a botanical art monument for Washington Square. Describing the motley nature of the city’s visual landscape, Kaitlin Pomerantz of WE THE WEEDS notes, “A single square block may contain traces of the Founding Fathers, a chug-along factory from the industrial heyday, blown out windows from a home abandoned during White Flight, a vacant lot consumed by nature’s forces, and the billowing Tyvek of a rising construction project.” Inspired by SEPTA’s motto “We’re getting there,” which Pomerantz terms “a hopeful yet eternally provisional slogan,” WE THE WEEDS’ plan calls for the artists to clear a vacant lot within the park’s lawn, and to re-site architectural features from decaying homes throughout Philadelphia (stoops and door frames, for example) within the park as objects for visitor interaction. The cleared lot and the objects will be left untended so that ruderal plant species (weeds) can reclaim these zones. This array of insertions will create an alternative landscape within the highly manicured park that more realistically represents Philadelphia’s eclectic urban space and palimpsest-like architectural and ecological history. The scattered, deconstructed lot installation also refers to the park’s history as a burial ground for indigent and anonymous soldiers, antebellum African Americans, yellow fever victims, and other disenfranchised members of Old Philadelphia whose bones rest below Washington Square’s neat lawn. This monument-scape seeks to honor the variety in Philadelphia’s built and natural environment and to open a dialogue about its future development.
Partners: Major support for Monument Lab was provided by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Monument Lab was institutionally sponsored by the Penn Institute for Urban Research. “We’re getting there” was presented as part of the Monument Lab: Philadelphia (2015) exhibition.
Cover image property of John Vosburgh