Review: ICA@50: Pleasing Artists & Publics Since 1963

ICA@50 is on view through August 17, 2014. All photos courtesy of the ICA’s website.

by Rachel Heidenry

There is a lot going on at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) these days. Ruffneck Constructivists, the large-scale exhibition guest curated by Kara Walker takes over the first floor galleries. The annual Open Video Call celebrates Philadelphia-area artists and filmmakers. And ICA@50 presents fifty years of exhibition catalogues and text in a visual historical timeline chronicling the institution’s many programs.

Linda Yun, there's a universe in your head that leaks from your eyes and mouth and hands
Linda Yun, there’s a universe in your head that leaks from your eyes and mouth and hands.

But perhaps the most exciting component is the microexhibition. Every two weeks, the ICA celebrates different artists, pulling from its collection of sculpture, film, painting, writing, video and performance while also commissioning new works. Over time, the space shifts and expands, movable walls becoming actors in the historicization of the exhibition itself. The idea is brilliant – a recollection of the past amid an active engagement with the contemporary.


So far, publics have experienced Linda Yun’s colorful hangings that, while celebratory, are also cleverly conceptual; Robert Morris’ profoundly poignant Tracks; Paul Thek’s intimate notebooks; and David Diao’s painted canvases. Viewers have one week left to view video interviews with Simon Kim and Billy Dufala that have the artists expounding on RAIR, the Recycled Artist in Residency that offers studio space at Revolution Recovery recycling center in Northeast Philadelphia. However, a series of three short-term residences responding to the question, “What are the discerning elements of citizenship, governance, and identification in a city made of the pieces of past colonial powers?” will produce projects over the next several months.

Much more is waiting to be seen, including work by Zoe Strauss, Duane Linklater, Josh Kline and Richard Artschwager. So make it an outing – a bi-weekly stroll to the upstairs galleries at the ICA. It will be worth the time.


ICA@50: Pleasing Artists & Publics Since 1963 will be on view through August 17, 2014.

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