"Blind Date" examines if strangers can unite for art's sake

By Nicole Finkbiner
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 26, 2013

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It takes two: "Blind Date" participants Alejandro Morales and Kate Speidel.

Anyone who’s ever been on a blind date knows what an awkward struggle it can be to get to know and establish a relationship with a complete stranger. In fact, more often than not, it’s a recipe for a disaster. But what if you put two strangers together in an attempt to find not romantic chemistry, but creative chemistry?

Part art exhibition, part social experiment, Blind Date showcases the cross-disciplinary collaborations between 28 visual, performance and literary artists, all culled from an open call and divided into 14 “couples.” In hopes of creating the most dynamic duos, curators Jared Dyer and Dorothy Dubrule selected and matched the artists using their submitted work sample, artist statement and responses to a Love Connection-style questionnaire. You know, corny questions like, What would you do on an ideal day off? and What do you consider the most important quality in a partner?

“The show was designed to explore what a collaborative relationship can manifest—how two people can make something they otherwise wouldn’t have on their own,” Dyer says. Recording their progress each week on the Blind Date Tumblr blog, at the end of their five-week courtship, the artists are asked to produce a piece of art that reflects each of their respective practices and aesthetics. Starting with the mundane initial pleasantries you might expect, the blog entries quickly evolve into all sorts of interesting exchanges—emails, text messages, photos, videos, playlists, to-do lists, sketches, poems, you name it. One couple even decided to make custom boxes for one another containing different gifts and trinkets for inspiration.

With the exception of two exhibiting artists who, divided between Philly and L.A, have been communicating strictly via phone and video chat, all of the Blind Date couples have met face-to-face at least once. Most striking about the artists’ early posts is not how many found that they shared similar interests with their partners, but just how candid they were able to be with one another, revealing more personal things about themselves than they’d likely ever dare utter on a first date, let alone a blind first date. Of course, you can’t force or fake chemistry. You can only plant the seeds.

“Built into the concept of the program is the idea that not every blind date is going to work out,” Dubrule says. “There was always the possibility that couples could break up or someone could be completely stood up.”

Yet, the potential for these dates to blossom into long-term friendships makes it all worth the risk. It just so happens that one couple has already taken their relationship to the next level, having decided to shack up with one another.

Following a one-night-only performance showcase at Vox Populi’s AUX Space, the Blind Date exhibition will host an opening reception at Goldilocks Gallery in Old City, which will also feature interactive performances. As for the other featured works, audiences can expect everything from photography to video installation. The artists were free to utilize their varying talents however they saw fit.

“It may be that the works are seamless hybrids of their creators’ individual practices,” Dyer says, “and it may turn out that they represent a failure to meet somewhere in the middle.”

And what is a relationship, after all, without compromise?

Opening reception: Thurs., June 27, 7pm. VOX Populi AUX Space, 319 N. 11th St. 215.238.1236. voxpopuligallery.org; Second reception: Fri., June 28, 7pm. Goldilocks Gallery, 723 Chestnut St. 215.423.8564. blinddatephilly.tumblr.com

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