On a crisp, clear Saturday in October, ICA’s Leadership Circle donor club paid a visit to RAIR in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia. Nested within Revolution Recovery, a business that sorts and sells reusable waste materials, RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency) invites artists to apply for residencies during which they can access objects in the waste stream to realize new work.
Billy Dufala, a co-founder of RAIR, and Lucia Thomé, who manages RAIR projects, gave the ICA group an extensive tour of Revolution Recovery, including areas where reclaimed materials such as scrap metal are sorted and baled. Billy also gave a demonstration of a recent project, in which he uses an excavator to write with a large piece of graphite on the concrete ground. An example of this is currently on view at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, in a video of Billy playing tic-tac-toe with his brother Steven, using the excavator to write X’s and O’s.
Billy and Lucia talked about past examples of artist-in-residence projects and showed the group the indoor studio space where the artists work. Artists who are selected gain access to all kinds of random and unexpected items that have been discarded—personal letters and photos, the entire contents of old homes, a pair of Prada shoes, an unopened bottle of Dom Perignon, whole speed boats, literal tons of skyscraper glass, and much more.
In its relatively brief existence, RAIR has already crossed paths with ICA many times. Abigail Deville’s Hooverville Torqued Ellipse in the 2012 exhibition First Among Equals and Alex Da Corte and Jayson Musson’s collaborative video Easternsports (2014) both sourced materials at RAIR. Artist residencies at RAIR also became part of the exhibition ICA@50 (2014), including a video and installation by Simon Kim and Billy Dufala and a performance of metal music initiated by artist Mary Ellen Carroll. Billy and Steven Dufala, who often work together, co-hosted ICA’s Open Video Call in 2012. Kate Kraczon, ICA’s Associate Curator, has developed and deepened our relationship with RAIR through each of these projects.
ICA is not the only place at Penn involved with RAIR: this year students at PennDesign and Penn Praxis sourced construction materials there.
For more information about how to join ICA’s Leadership Circle for access to trips like this, visit our Donor Clubs page.
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