A knight from chess, a pawn from Sorry!, and larger-than-life dominos and checker discs are just several of the various game pieces from classic board games strewn around Thomas Paine Plaza in Philadelphia. On May 26, the beloved Philadelphia public art installation, Your Move, was removed to make way for repairs and renovation of the outdoor plaza.
Your Move, created by Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White in 1996 for the City’s Percent for Art Program, inserted oversized versions of recognizable playing pieces from chess, Sorry!, Parcheesi, Monopoly, bingo, dominoes, and checkers. The installation was conceived to reflect the viewers life journey, moving from child’s play to adult obligation, while also serving as a symbol of human interaction through playing games.
The artists were notified of their installation’s removal by the City’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy (OACCE) and were offered the opportunity to take the artwork into their own possession. The artists neglected to do so, and so the pieces will be disposed of entirely.
The city has chosen to remove the public art piece for a number of reasons, among this the expensive upkeep of the pieces themselves. The game pieces were not made to withstand outdoor conditions, such as rain or sunlight, not to mention the wear and tear of daily park uses such as skateboarding and other recreational activities. Since it was installed the required upkeep and the recreational use has resulted in the loss of several pieces. Only 34 of the original 45 game pieces remained when the installation was removed.
The installation was perfect for the plaza’s original concrete design which was typical for a 1990s park, but in the proposed renovation Thomas Paine Plaza, which is situated across from Dilworth Park and City Hall will be reimagined to emulate Dilworth Plaza and LOVE Park, with new green spaces and seating to make it more welcoming to the public. First the foundation of the plaza will undergo repairs, then moving on to its full redesign.
Since this is a major city funded renovation project, the same Percent for Art Program responsible for Your Move will be enacted and require the redesign to include a new public, site-specific artwork as a replacement, although the new piece will be built to be more durable and fitted for public interaction.