Duffy Square | June 27 - September 5, 2017
Times Square Arts and artist Aman Mojadidi bring Once Upon a Place, an interactive public art installation that creates a platform for immigrant voices, to Duffy Square (46th Street and 7th Avenue) from June 27- September 5. Visitors will be invited to open the door of one of three repurposed telephone booths, pick up the receiver, and listen to oral histories of immigration from the newest New Yorkers. Visitors can also open the phone book inside each booth to read more about the storytellers' communities both here in New York and the countries they have traveled from, and to leave behind a part of their own story if they wish. The installation will include 70 different stories that will last anywhere between 2 and 15 minutes. There will be a press opening ceremony on Tuesday, June 27th at 11:00 am after which the installation will be open to the public.
According to the Pew Research Center, by the year 2065 one in three Americans will be an immigrant or have immigrant parents. In New York City currently, more than a third of the city’s residents are foreign-born and close to 800 languages are spoken across the five boroughs. Once Upon a Place brings the city’s residents together by using three personalized phone booths to share stories of immigration, told by the New Yorkers who lived them. Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi recorded these stories over several months as part of his residency with Times Square Arts, creating a safe environment for residents to share the experiences that brought them to New York, either in English or in their mother tongue.
In current political and social conversations about borders, bans, and citizenship, the word “immigrants” can be used as a monolithic block, sweeping under a single label people from a wide variety of backgrounds. By giving participants a platform to tell their individual stories, Once Upon a Place instead explores that rich variety of personalities and journeys. Listeners are drawn into the lives of New York City residents from Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Yemen, bringing an intersection of experiences to the Crossroads of the World.
In the heart of Times Square, thousands of local employees and residents walk side-by-side with visitors from around New York, around the country, and around the world. The three phone booths – three of the last phone booths that were removed from the streets of NYC, which were de-installed by the same man who first installed phone booths in Times Square in the 1980s – establish an intimate space for reflection and connection with our neighbors.
Video by Andrei Severny and Stephen Cardone (iRolls.com)
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