On the Threshold (Salvaged Stoops, Philadelphia)
Kaitlin Pomerantz’s On the Threshold (Salvaged Stoops, Philadelphia) is a monument to a beloved symbol of Philadelphia neighborhood culture: the stoop, or step(s), as it is known in South Philadelphia. As Pomerantz writes, the stoop or step is “a threshold between private and public space...[it] functions as a site of social interaction, of relaxation, and of participation.” Responding to recent immense change and transformation across city neighborhoods, Pomerantz sought to intercept historic building materials that would otherwise end up in the waste stream. Over six months, she collected marble, concrete, and brick from recently demolished buildings. The stoop materials were reconstructed on-site using historical and traditional masonry techniques, and lined the east side of Washington Square Park, creating an opportunity for sitting, gathering, and reflecting on Philadelphia’s past and its future. Washington Square Park’s history as both a public gathering place and unmarked cemetery sparked the idea for the project, which stimulates conversation about architectural and individual memory.
This project was created for Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project curated by Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum and produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia. Monument Lab was premised on central guiding question: What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? From September 16 to November 19, 2017, temporary prototype monuments by 20 artists were installed across 10 sites in Philadelphia’s iconic public squares and neighborhood parks. These site-specific artworks were presented together with research labs housed in shipping containers, where proposals for new monuments were collected from community members. The proposals—more than 5,000 in total—became a dataset of public speculation presented in a final report the city. During the exhibition, the collection was on view at the Morris Gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.