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Common Material Finds Uncommon Use At PHL

Packing tape is normally used for, well, packing – unless Philadelphia artist Mark Khaisman gets hold of it.

He uses the 2-inch strips of tape as his wide brush, and his canvas is a back-lit clear acrylic sheet with the packing tape applied to its surface. He layers and molds the tape, and upon illumination, a recognizable image can be seen. He has done large portraits, a group of interacting figures and most recently, scene stills from the movie genre known as film noir.

He has brought that series, called “Tape Noir,” to Philadelphia International (PHL). It features stills from movies such as “Pickup on South Street” (1953), “The 39 Steps” (1935) and “Spellbound” (1945).

“As passengers experience the exhibition, they are taken in by the artist’s imaginative use of such a common material and the skillful manner in which he manipulates the packing tape into recognizable images,” says exhibitions director Leah Douglas. “It’s exciting to watch as they realize what the artist has been able to create out of ordinary tape.”

Khaisman studied art and architecture at the Moscow State Academy of Architecture. His tape works have also been shown at the Crane Arts Building and Moore College of Art and Design, both in Philadelphia, Pa.; the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington; and the Main Line Art Center in Haverford, Pa.