11 Sep
Phone Booths Return to Times Square...Kind Of Phone Booths Return to Times Square...Kind Of

Phone Booths Return to Times Square...Kind Of

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No, the vintage glass-and-metal closets with a fluorescent ceiling light illuminating the word TELEPHONE on all four sides aren't making a comeback in the age of smartphones -- the ancestors of which, those lowly brick- and dumb-phones, rendered phone booths all but obsolete.

Instead, three phone booths recently adorned Duffy Square in the heart of Mid-town Manhattan's Times Square neighborhood -- as an art installation aimed at themes of displacement and belonging as each relates to the immigrant experience.

The project, "Once Upon a Place" by Aman Mojadidi, looks at the immigrant experience by way of oral histories that are presented in the form of phone calls. Incoming ones, announced by the familiar pay phone ring.

Mojadidi, an Afghan-American artist, said to the New York Times, “The idea of the stories and use of the phone booths were conceived together. I was already fascinated with the removal of phone booths and the fact that they were dying out. I’ve used them quite a bit before mobile phones came, so to see them start to go away, I figured you could imagine all the stories that have already been told through phone booths.”

Mojadidi initially envisioned placing the booths all over the city, but settled on Times Square for reasons of symbolism and practicality.

He explains that Times Square is "a highly visible, international space,” going on to say that it was his wish that his exhibit would provoke listeners to look further into their own family trees as well as to question stereotypes concerning immigration.

“This issue of immigration has become so politicized," he said. "Globally, any sort of major city is built on immigration rather than destroyed by it."


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Read 1685 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 August 2017 05:40
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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