‘Supine Horizons’ reminds its community and beyond to take a break

Supine Horizons
Installation view of Supine Horizons.
David Evan McDowell

In the age of hustling, grinding and working 24/7, one Germantown art installation is reminding everyone how positive it can be to slow down—and it’s all through an immersive experience. 

With ‘Supine Horizons’, Philadelphia Contemporary is offering a new way to explore the themes of rest, resistance and renewal through synthesized sound and projected visuals. Local multi-media artist Gralin Hughes, Jr. brings the new exhibit to life with the contemporary art organization, and it’s on display now through Dec. 20. 

“As a Black man, I grew up with the idea that you had to work twice as hard to get even half of the respect of a White person. Rest or taking care of yourself was perceived as lazy in that framework,” explains Hughes, Jr. in a statement. 

The artist continues: “Supine Horizons counters that as an invitation to rest, a space where people—especially Black people—can feel safe, cozy, and comfortable physically and mentally. The installation’s interactivity is not to move or control the environment but to rest and do nothing. The project is particularly poignant to me being situated in Germantown, where I grew up, as an offering to my late grandmother and other family members. They were not given such an invitation.”

‘Supine Horizons’ is currently calling Kinesics Dance Dynamics (KDD) Theatre in Germantown home with the idea of subverting capitalist ideals of “hustle” and “grind” culture while dismantling the idea that rest is solely a luxury or a privilege.

The installation utilizes couches, ultra-supportive bean bag chairs meant to mimic the sensations of flotation therapy, restorative yoga props, ambient soundscapes, projected visuals meant to soothe and much more. 

The sound and visuals for the project were developed by Hughes—a member of PhillyAV, an artist-led experimental multimedia collective, and a founding member of blkpatches—during a month-long residency in October 2022, a release states. The information also states that the artist created original sound compositions and corresponding visuals using modular synthesizers and software, in addition to incorporating non-traditional techniques such as the biorhythms in plants. 

The work is enhanced with projection techniques, which also makes the experience ever-evolving and always changing. So, no two visitors will have quite the same experience. 

‘Supine Horizons’ comes from a partnership between Philadelphia Contemporary and the Kinesics Dance Dynamics (KDD) Theatre, a Black-owned performance space. The art organization and the dance studio both share the goal of connecting the community with the arts. And it’s purposeful that they placed the installation in the Germantown neighborhood. 

Supine Horizons
Gralin Hughes, Jr. (Television Sky) and Nicole Pollard outside Supine Horizons at the KDD Theatre. David Evan McDowell

“Since Philadelphia Contemporary’s founding in 2016, our primary focus has been connecting the people and places of this city through art and partnership. We hope that creating a physical site where the community can relax and engage with Gralin’s multimedia works will inspire new connections and encourage collective healing,” added Harry Philbrick, Founding Director and CEO of Philadelphia Contemporary in a statement.

‘Supine Horizons’ was also created “in dialogue with the work of Black women and femme leaders” such as Nap Bishop of The Nap Ministry, Tricia Hersey, Octavia F. Raheem, plus Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa of Siestas Negras (Black Power Naps).

Different programming makes up the ideology of ‘Supine Horizons’ with the ideas of rest and relaxation at the forefront. For example, Octavia F. Raheem will be on Zoom with a rest workshop (Dec. 9, at 6:30 p.m.) Raheem is know for her teachings on yoga and wellness, which contributed inspiration to ‘Supine Horizons.’

According to the release, other events will include a recurring restorative yoga class led by Hanae Victoria Manson of Studio 34 Yoga Healing Arts, acupuncture sessions by licensed acupuncturist Sarah Lefkowich, and a poetry reading and guided meditation session by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Airea D. Matthews. Then, this Saturday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m., Hughes and Chaka Benson, founder of POC modular art collective blkpatches, will perform at the KDD Theatre. A full calendar of events is available online.

To help visitors navigate through the whole experience of the new installation, a free resource booklet will accompany ‘Supine Horizons’. The booklet also holds prompts to help make the experience even more immersive and truly capitalize on the idea of rest and relaxation. Visitors are encouraged to dress comfortably, and lockers are available on-site.

To find out more information on ‘Supine Horizons’ at the Kinesics Dance Dynamics Theatre (5427 Germantown Ave.), visit philadelphiacontemporary.org