Chance Encounter on the Tiber is an experiment in revitalization of the public space along the Tiber River. Making the walkway along the Tiber River into a vibrant social open space does not have to be difficult and complex. An alternative to grand architectural and urban planning schemes is to focus on two simple issues: seating and programming.
This project is a collaboration with the composer Lisa Bielawa and is inspired by William White’s studies in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. White found that one of the most successful tools in creating vibrant spaces was the use of movable chairs. One of his most memorable findings is that people create ownership of public space by being able to control where and how they sit in the urban environment. We propose to combine White’s methods with artistic programming that is also specifically designed to break down the conventions of concert music: assigned seats in fixed rows, performers on defined stage spaces, paid admission, and fixed, ritual attention.
Bielawa’s composition Chance Encounter, for soprano and twelve instruments, is designed so that it is not prescribed where and how the audience should or might sit to enjoy the music. The musicians are in two separate locations, approximately half a city block away from each other. They arrive one or two at a time, over the course of seven minutes, so that it is not clear exactly when the performance has officially begun. Similarly, at the end of the 35-minute piece, performers leave one or several at a time, so that when the piece is over, there are no musicians present.
We are planning two separate performances of Chance Encounter on the Tiber on Monday May 31, 2010, in the late afternoon/early evening, at two separate sites along the Tiber River in the heart of Rome. The Chance Encounter on the Tiber project would begin several weeks prior, with experimentation in chair placement and documentation of how people interact and use them at different times and places. The joint project on May 31 will be documented through video and time-lapse photography.
Photo by Angelo Marinelli - Fortunato Production
Photo by Marco Martinelli
Photo by Marco Martinelli
Robert Hammond is President and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line, a non-profit organization he co-founded in 1999 with Joshua David. They took the High Line - a 1.5-mile disused, elevated rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side - from the brink of demolition to the opening of the first section (Gansevoort St. - 20th St.) as a public park in June 2009. Before founding Friends of the High Line, Mr. Hammond helped start several small businesses and then served as a consultant to small businesses and non-profits. Mr. Hammond is also a self-taught artist with works in individual and corporate collections. He served as an Ex-Officio Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2002 – 2005. He was born and raised in San Antonio, TX, has a BA in history from Princeton University, and has lived in New York City since 1994.