Viewing South Kensington through the lens of time
As part of the Philly Block Project, an ongoing grassroots collaboration in South Kensington, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas will unveil “Archive Collective: South Kensington 19122.”
The exhibition is the first of two Philly Block Projects exhibitions at PPAC. Opening on June 9, it will include past and present photographs from historical archives and from the individuals who have come to call Kensington their home.
The photos will attempt to show the evolution of the South Kensington community, including an “industrial boom” and the surge of small businesses and the arts today.
“It would be impossible to tell a community’s story through history books and public records alone,” said Kalia Brooks, curator at PPAC in a press release. “Through ‘Archive Collective: South Kensington 19122,’ The Philly Block Project doesn’t just ‘document’ important events and changes in South Kensington, but really takes a deeper look at how residents felt and how their lives were impacted.”
Assisted by historian Alysson Biermaier, Philly Block Project has been able to obtain additional archival images from libraries and city records that fully expand on images such as the nation’s first Salvation Army, Kensington’s iconic trolleys, and the Stetson hat factory.
Current and former South Kensington residents can continue sharing photos for the Philly Block Project. While exhibition submissions have closed, residents will have a chance to decide at monthly meetings where the photographs will later be kept.
“’Archive Collective: South Kensington 19122’ is an opportunity to put our South Kensington pride on display publicly, but that’s just the beginning,” PPAC Executive Director Sarah Stolfa said. “These images and stories are our history, so the archive will live on, and hopefully continue growing, long after the exhibition closes.”