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Festival of the River

Jun 8, 2018 – Jun 10, 2018


Festival of the River

As an extension of the ICA’s inaugural exhibition Declaration, three artists will premiere newly commissioned pieces at Richmond’s Festival of the River. This one-time-only, three-day event will take place on Brown’s Island June 8–10, 2018, to celebrate the James River, Chesapeake Bay, and the Richmond region.

The ICA at VCU has collaborated with the Richmond Symphony and Sound Arts Richmond to commission three new performances by Declaration artists Hope Ginsburg, Marinella Senatore, and Paul Rucker. These performances reinforce the partnering institutions’ shared values, including a commitment to providing inclusive platforms, supporting the development of powerful new creative works, and fostering collaborations that reach into the city and allow wide audiences to experience the transformative power of art.

Held during Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, the community will come together during the Festival of the River to enjoy site-specific installations by contemporary artists; performers including dancer Savion Glover, singer Rhiannon Giddens, and No BS Brass Band under the Richmond Symphony’s “Big Tent;” cleanups along and around the river; and family-friendly environmental education activities. Events are made possible through the planning of many community stakeholders, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Venture Richmond, the Capital Region Collaborative, the James River Association, the Richmond Symphony, and the ICA at VCU.

Declaration Artists Performance Schedule
June 9, 2018

2:00 Festival opens to public

3:00 / Hope Ginsburg – Land Dive Team: Amphibious James  @ Haxall Headgate Park (approx 30-40 min)

4:00 / Marinella Senatore –Richmond: Symphony of a City @ Big Tent stage + Various (approx 60 min)

5:30 / Paul Rucker –Richmond: 7 to 7  @ Big Tent stage (approx 30 minutes)

For a complete schedule of festival activities and performances, visit



Hope Ginsburg
Hope Ginsburg, Land Dive Team: Amphibious James, 2018
Composer: Joshua Quarles
Diver and river guide: Matt Flowers
Dive consultant: Jim McNeal
Location: Haxall Headgate Park (at the edge of Brown’s Island)

Ginsburg will present a new addition to her Land Dives series, Land Dive Team: Amphibious James (2018), which draws inspiration from the James River’s rich ecosystem. Fellow divers meditate in full scuba gear on land or amphibiously, paying close attention to each site and its potential futures as determined by climate change. For Festival of the River, a small group of divers and classically trained woodwind musicians will perform a new composition on land. Concurrently, several divers will walk into the James, broadcasting live audio. The breathing apparatus of the divers on land and in the river form an integrated part of the instrumentation. The composition will also incorporate pre-recorded sounds of river life. This new work is a counterpoint to Ginsburg’s video Land Dive Team: Bay of Fundy, 2016, on view at the ICA during Declaration.


Marinella Senatore, Richmond: Symphony of a City, 2018
Director: Tawyna Pettiford-Wates
Location: Big Tent, Brown’s Island, Adjacent Areas

Senatore will create a large-scale participatory performance centering on a “radio drama”—an audio collage about Richmond, based in part on stories gathered from the city’s residents through an open call. The radio drama will be performed live under the Richmond Symphony’s “Big Tent.” During a prologue, community performers will activate other sites on the island and call attention to the performance; an epilogue will direct audience members to the next performance. The radio drama is directed by Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, a VCU professor and artistic director for The Conciliation Project, a nonprofit social justice theater company based in Richmond. It will be recorded and broadcast later on local radio and archived for further dissemination by the ICA. This performance is linked to Senatore’s Estman Radio project which is on view now as part of Declaration—an installation that functions as a community radio platform, where any visitor can record and share their thoughts with others.

Photo: Neil Lukas

Photo: Neil Lukas

Paul Rucker, Richmond: 7 to 7, 2018
With Vaughn Garland and the People’s Record of Richmond
Location: Big Tent, Brown’s Island

Rucker composed a new symphonic work that he will perform alongside select members of the Richmond Symphony, students from VCU, and musicians from the greater Richmond community. Created in collaboration with Vaughn Garland, a Richmond-based sound artist, this musical performance will incorporate audio reflections by Richmond citizens on topics of racism and healing that Garland and Rucker gathered over the course of one single day in May 2018, speaking with citizens from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at sites along the James River. Both Rucker and Garland are concerned with making space for voices and histories that are sometimes left out of civic conversations and historical narratives. The work continues Rucker’s ongoing investigation of structural and systemic racism and complements his large installation Storm in the Time of Shelter, presented at the ICA during Declaration.

Learn more about the 2018 Festival of the River.