The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program enlisted Berlin-based painter Katharina Grosse to lead its latest public arts project. With the finishing touches just recently completed, psychylustro unfolds along Philly’s regional rail lines. That’s SEPTA’s R7 and R8 lines just north of Center City, to be specific.
psychylustro takes as its substrate the barren walls and patches of land along the tracks for vast, sprayed fields of color. Bright, sickly hues blanket the ground and crumbling structures in rhythmic bands that offer a shocking counterpoint to the neutral tones of the urban scene. Kind of like a failed form of camoflauge, the “murals” appear to call attention to the landscape and trigger curiosity about the viewer’s role as a spectator traveling through it. After all, only glimpses of scenery are available to the commuter who speeds past on the regional rail lines.
In this way, Grosse’s use of the train as a vehicle (no pun intended) for experience is a nice twist. Rather than looking at a mural from a static vantage point, these pieces are intended to be viewed while moving through space in a brief amount of time. So, what then is conveyed? And what does it look like? Having seen only still images, we can only imagine what the true experience must be like.
If you have the opportunity to see psychylustro, please let us know. We’re curious to hear how it all plays out.