PIFA Plaza to Feature Enormous “Kinetic Tree” Made of 2x4s

Mimi Lien, who created the popular Eiffel Tower installation at the first PIFA in 2011, is back. And this time she's creating an enormous Kinetic Tree.

Mimi Lien's The Kinetic Tree - rendering

Renderings of Mimi Lien’s The Kinetic Tree, the centerpiece of the 2016 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. (Courtesy of PIFA)

The centerpiece of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts will be an enormous tree made out of wooden 2x4s created by artist Mimi Lien, PIFA and Kimmel Center brass announced Thursday. The installation, called The Kinetic Tree, will be in the ground floor plaza of the Kimmel Center and made entirely out of 2x4s.

“Every time I step into the Kimmel Center, I have a great desire to put something way up high and make people look up and see the sky through the glass and appreciate the vastness of the vertical space,” Lien said Thursday while in Kimmel Center’s Dorrance Hamilton Garden. “It’s really a wonderful moment to be standing in this wonderful piece of architecture and looking up at the sky. I feel like it’s a real bridge from our urban existence to the natural world.”

Lien also designed the Eiffel Tower that was the centerpiece of the first PIFA in 2011. This year, in collaboration with lighting designer Tyler Micoleau and sound designer Nick Kourtides, Lien has designed a tree created by 2x4s that will spring to life with twice-nightly performances throughout the festival.

“The installation will be a sculptural expression of our territorial vision, ‘We are what we make,'” Lien said. “Our tree will be an interactive, kinetic sculpture that lives in the lobby of the Kimmel Center for the duration of the festival. Visitors will be invited to explore its nooks and crannies. … We are planning on building the tree in front of your very eyes at the two free performances, which will be happening every night during the festival. During the performance, the tree will explode into life from its dormant state and grow into a raw, untamed form. You’ll have to see it to believe it.”

PIFA runs from April 8th to the 23rd this year, with events held mostly at the Kimmel Center but also at various locales on South Broad Street and around the city. The kickoff event is a three-night spectacle at Penn’s Landing called Article 13, a collaboration between France’s Compagnie Carabosse and Mexico’s Teatro Linea de Sombra. It’s an “inhabited installation” made of sand and fire that is a memorial to the thousands of migrants from Mexico who have disappeared. It runs at 9 p.m. from April 8th to the 10th. “The festival, quite literally, opens with a ball of fire,” said Jay Wahl, the Kimmel Center’s artistic director.

The festival will also feature Stand, a collaboration between the Clay Studio and the Center for Art in Wood. It is, per the Kimmel Center, “a large-scale public installation of a forest comprised of armatures made from reclaimed wood and covered in wet clay. Audiences and volunteers will be invited to apply thousands of pounds of clay to help build this forest, providing the public a chance to share in a moment of art-making.”

More information about PIFA, including the end-of-festival street fair, will be forthcoming. PIFA.org has more.

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