public record

A stolen overcoat, a murdered thief. People in 19th-century Pittsburgh made mistakes. Sometimes those bad decisions are all we know of them.

{VISIT THE NEW WEBSITE FOR iPhone, SMS/TextMsg, and Download access to the Public Record project!}

{Blog posts on Public Record}

{Follow on Facebook}

{Watch on Twitter}

{BOMB Magazine article, “Works In Progress”}

{Post-Gazette feature}

There are figures and dates in Pittsburgh’s history that everyone knows. The strikes of 1877 and 1892, and strike-outs of 1960 and 1979; receptions both immaculate (Harris) and less so (G-20); great men doing big things (Jonas Salk, August Wilson) and women who loom just as large (Rachel Carson, Gertrude Stein).

But just beneath that history there’s another stratum that shies away from the public record. There’s a pantheon of men and women lost to history – Pittsburghers who may have sworn out more witness testimony than census cards. And their psyches layer Pittsburgh to this day, haunting the city, making us who we are.

Public Record helps to explore their Pittsburgh – even if you don’t like what you see…

…in Feb., 1860, Rev. J.M. Smith attempted to violate the honor of Mrs. Adelia T. Hays in a Penn Avenue office – or was it all part of Dr. Hays’ plan…

…in June, 1872, Andrew Kurtzbaner drowned behind the St. Nicholas Hotel, Grant St. and Fourth Avenue – but was it an accident…

…in Feb., 1880, William Penn Herriott and knife salesman William Kelly wrestled on Tunnel Street – where Robert Morris University’s Downtown building now stands. Both men went down, but only Mr. Kelly walked away…

Public Record haunts Pittsburgh with a new mythology – that of the ordinary men and women, with the baggage of their bad decisions. With poems written from 19th-century newspaper crime reports, Public Record makes the prosaic into the poetic, and populates the city with these unknown, powerful, ghostly layers.

{Public Record launches 5:30-9pm, Friday, July 16, with a gallery show at 937 Liberty Ave., 2nd floor, as part of the Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District – show continues through July 25.}

Public Record is a multi-media documentary poetry project by Justin Hopper, as artist-in-residence with Deeplocal and Encyclopedia Destructica, and a host of collaborators. Public Record consists of a book of poems written using text sampled from 19th-century Pittsburgh crime reports; audio performances of those poems; and a mobile-phone system with iPhone app and SMS text-based delivery system for experiencing those poems in Downtown and North Side Pittsburgh, in the locations where the original crimes occurred. It all debuts in July – for more info, including the launch of the Public Record website, keep watching this site, the Facebook site, and follow the Twitter hashtag #publicrecord.

This project supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.

The Sprout Fund enriches the Pittsburgh region’s vitality by engaging citizens, amplifying voices, supporting creativity and innovation, and cultivating connected communities.  Founded in 2001, Sprout facilitates community-led solutions to regional challenges and supports efforts to create a thriving, progressive, and culturally diverse region.  With strong working relationships to many community organizations and regional stakeholders, The Sprout Fund is one of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s leading agencies on issues related to civic engagement, talent attraction and retention, public art, and catalytic small-scale funding.  With ongoing local support and continued appreciation by the communities it serves, The Sprout Fund will continue to catalyze creative solutions to pressing challenges, engage people in community conversations, respond to the needs of its target audiences, open doors to civic participation, and promote responsible stewardship of community interests.

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One response to “public record

  1. Pingback: Hiatus « The Old Weird Albion

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