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European Arts Collective Builds Massive, Climbable Tape Sculpture Inside A Vacant Warehouse at the Navy Yard

November 8, 2019

Holy shit: Philly, meet the #NavyYardCocoon!

Excited to get a preview this week of  Group X and the Navy Yard’s latest public arts project, an interactive tape sculpture created by experimental European arts collective Numen/For Use. Titled Tape Philadelphia: Enter the Cocoon, the project opens tomorrow, Saturday, November 9th inside 1701 Langley Avenue (Building 694) at the Navy Yard and runs through December 1st open Thursdays and Fridays 12-8PM and Saturdays and Sundays 10Am-8PM (closed November 28 for Thanksgiving, as well as November 17.).

With their sculpture, Numen/For Use wish to transport onlookers and those who navigate the installation both literally and metaphorically. This is Numen/For Use’s first installation on the East Coast, and their second in the United States.

Made with 21.5 miles of translucent tape, Enter the Cocoon is not only super surreal to look at and walk around, but you can also climb in it too! Yes, you read that right. Roughly five people at a time can “enter the cocoon.” No tickets or RSVPs are required for you to enter the building to see the sculpture, but you can reserve a spot (for free) on the project’s Ticketleap site, if you’ve like to guarantee an entry up into the Cocoon itself. Otherwise, you may just have to wait in a long line or potentially have to come back if the lines are too long. For those with children, note that kids must be at least 40 inches tall to enter the installation, and children younger than 11 must be accompanied by an adult.

“For us it is 100 percent important that the public can go inside and experience these works. When people see the installation, most of them are curious, and then they want to go inside. But since you have to take your shoes off and crawl on all fours, it makes the social borders come down. Visitors enjoy it together in a very communicative way even though they often do not know each other or talk to each other,” said artists Numen/For Use. “This is why we like to see it in the public. Maybe it is somehow like in a different world and some rules and borders do not count for a while.”

Following the wildly popular Sea Monsters HERE inflatable art installation with artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas, Tape Philadelphia: Enter the Cocoon is the second collaborative partnership between Group X, a group of Philadelphia-based artists, curators, and organizers whose members are anonymous, and the Navy Yard, the “coolest shipyard in America” and leading model for repurposed military base where nearly 15,000 employees work at 170 companies, surrounded by iconic parks, Complete Streets, and a riverfront greenway.

“In a city of monuments and murals, we see this experience as an expansion on what public art can be,” says Group X, the organizers and curators of the project, who are comprised of anonymous Philadelphia artists and arts leaders. “On its surface, Enter the Cocoon is playful, perhaps a bit mesmerizing, and definitely weird. Underneath that, the project is asking questions about the role of the viewer in public art and the responsibility of art that’s presented for public consumption.”

For Tape Philadelphia: Enter the Cocoon, Numen/For Use have created one of their most accessible tape installations to date. Group X and the Navy Yard involved Philadelphia-based accessibility consultants Elizabeth Clay of @AccessibleArtPhila on Instagram, who works specifically in the art and culture space to ensure accessibility information is available to audiences and visitors with disabilities, and Alanna Raffel of Access Point, a company that strives to increase inclusion in Philadelphia and beyond by advocating for access, creating solutions, and promoting awareness of accessible opportunities for people with disabilities and their friends and family.

The Navy Yard, Group X, and Numen/For Use welcome visitors of all abilities, and they worked together to ensure that Enter the Cocoon is an immersive art experience for everyone. The warehouse’s location in the Navy Yard allowed for intentional, thoughtful design that integrates the needs of visitors with disabilities with the artists’ large-scale installation. Visitors are invited to interact with the space around them, view the exhibit from the ground, and will have the opportunity to enter the interior of the art exhibit.

“Together with the Navy Yard, Group X, and the artists, we encouraged participation over observation when planning Tape Philadelphia: Enter the Cocoon,” noted accessibility consultants Elizabeth Clay and Alanna Raffel. “Rather than expecting visitors to simply view the piece, we collaborated on early designs to emphasize a shared experience for all in a space anchored in Philadelphia’s history.”

I absolutely love this! And I think a lot of y’all will too. Learn more about Enter the Cocoon on the project’s website here!

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