One of the most iconic areas of New York City and one of the world’s most visited attraction, the Times Square is the pinnacle of NYC’s status as “the city that never sleeps.” The place has also served as an art gallery of sorts since 1992, when the Times Square Arts program was launched in order to create and support projects in all forms of art, including performance, design and emerging new media.
Established during the 2017 Women’s March, Word on the Street returns with female artists to Midtown Manhattan for the second time to co-opt this public advertising space with some protest art. The spring edition includes works by the artist Tania Bruguera and Laurie Anderson, the writer A.M. Homes and the poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
Born out of a series of protest banners used in the Women’s March in 2017, the project Word on the Street is created by the House of Trees arts collective as a response to the tumultuous political climate. The collective is dedicated to revealing the transformative effects of contemporary art through the creation and production of dynamic, site-specific, public art projects that incorporate a variety of artistic practices.
Using the form of the protest banner as a platform for poetic language and imagery, the project Word on the Street seeks to collapse the invisible societal wall between politics and art. Taking part in the Times Square Arts, the project challenges the commercial world by co-opting the public advertising space and turn it into a message of resistance.
Once again, the project brings together female artists and their work to the tourist hotspot. Positioned in Times Square, the project aims to create a network of texts that help articulate, support, and empower positive responses to the ever-changing social and political landscape.
As A.M. Homes explains, however fleeting, slogans, catch-phrases and images give us pause and make us think. "These banners raise questions, entertain, provoke, they ask those passing by to engage, to respond, to stay active," she continues.
Laurie Anderson says that the goal of the project is to "sum things up." "The banner project is an ambitious program that will hopefully inspire the people who just happen to pass by and look up,” she explains.
Besides exhibiting works by female artists in Times Square, the project also involves other events that include opportunities for public participation - Workshop on the Street and Workshop on the Street: May Day, as well as an artist talk titled Artists Take the Street! Taking place on April 19th, 2018 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the artist talks will bring together Tania Bruguera, A.M. Homes and Amy Khoshbin to discuss power and identity in their work, and the relationship amongst public art, activism, and social and political change.
In addition, the exhibition with all original refugee-fabricated banners by Word on the Street collaborators will open during the Hampton Arts Network inaugural THAW Fest from March 23rd and remain open through April 17th, 2018. The exhibition will also feature performances by Inga Maren Otto, Fellows Anne Carson and Tania Bruguera, as well as a banner-making workshop led by House of Trees.
Featured images: Word on the Street, Spring 2018 edition. All images courtesy of Maria Baranova for Times Square Arts.
New York City, United States of America