Vacant spaces can be a sobering reminder that the dwellings of an active community often outlive fleeting moments in our history. The flip side of this is that human creativity usually finds a way to return beauty to these abandoned sites.
Brooklyn-based visual artist Aaron Asis recently wrapped up an installation at St. Andrews Collegiate Chapel located at 42nd and Spruce streets, a Gothic Revival structure built in 1923 for the sermon lessons and school services of Philadelphia Divinity School.
The building's chapel has been closed since 1974, but for three weekends in February and March, Asis displayed an installation called Ci-Lines, consisting of symmetrical blue strings stretched 7,000 feet throughout the chapel (and appearing somewhat like a raised grid of laser tripwires).
For help and inspiration, Asis collaborated with several fifth-graders from the nearby Penn-Alexander school. Organized by the Spruce Hill Community Association, the University City Arts League, and Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Ci-Lines not only displays the geometric character of the chapel, but awakens the imagination to preserve the memory of the vacant space.
Through occupation, spatial installations that draw connections between people and their built environs can facilitate exposure to alternative histories, spatial expectations, and interior sensations, all in the name of increased awareness of space, place and circumstance.
Videographer Cory J. Popp, captivated by Ci-Lines, visited St. Andrews and shot the following video to provide a closer look at the project space.