TANN, HORNS, & DEAD DOGS: Tales of Civic Effluvia

A eulogy for a buried creek, spoken and sung by the souls that lived and died along its course.

TANN, HORNS, & DEAD DOGS premieres September 5th, 2008 at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, two minutes before local sunset:

Friday, September 5, 7:23pm

Saturday, September 6, 7:21pm

Friday, September 12, 7:11pm

Saturday, September 13, 7:10pm

Each performance is approximately 29 minutes long, ending with the close of civil twilight.

Additional performances commence at 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, September 20th and 21st, and at 1pm on Saturday, September 27th for National Public Lands Day.

The performance takes place on the former site of Dock Creek in Independence National Historical Park, SW block at the intersection of 3rd and Chestnut Streets.

In the middle of this park block between Carpenters’ Hall and the First Bank of the United States there is a small depression in the land, a memorial marking the course of Dock Creek, which was arched over and buried at the end of the 1700’s, after it had become irredeemably fouled by the domestic and industrial waste being dumped into it for over a century. The creek still flows beneath us, as the oldest exit for Philadelphia’s civic effluvia.

It is easy to forget what roils through the pipes below, which is, after all, why it was put down there. But breathing deeply at the sewer grate, performance artist Brett Keyser peels back the layers of this man-made landscape in an evocative “exhumation” of the little tidal creek, an elegy of ebb and flow, of growth and decay, of life, and love, and loss along “The Dock”.

Commissioned by the American Philosophical Society Museum, Keyser’s TANN, HORNS, & DEAD DOGS was conceived as a companion piece to Drawing Dock Creek, a sculptural installation on the same site by Winifred Lutz. Both Lutz and Keyser are artists in residence for the current APS Museum exhibition “UNDAUNTED: Five American Explorers, 1760-2007” through December 2008.


McMahon, Michal. “Publick Service” versus “Mans Properties”: Dock Creek and the Origins of Urban Technology in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia in Judith A. McGaw’s Early American Technology, 1994

Watson, John Fanning. Annals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the Olden Time, v. I, 1857, specifically the chapter entitled “The Drawbridge and Dock Creek” pp. 336-349

Levine, Adam. www.phillyh2o.org The History of Philadelphia’s Watersheds and Sewers