Shared_Studios' Portals are gold shipping containers equipped with immersive audio-visual technology. When participants enter one, they come face-to-face, live and full-body, with someone in an identical space somewhere else on earth. Portals exist in diverse locations including technology hubs, refugee camps, art museums, community centers, and public plazas. Locations include Afghanistan, Germany, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Rwanda, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, and Yemen.
Each of the nearly seven weeks of this installation will explore a specific theme: Public Space, Food, Migration, Performance, Identity, Change, and Gratitude. In addition to hosting dialogues between individuals, the TimesSquare_Portal will host special conversations, meals, musical performances, and more. The most up-to-date list of events can be found at www.TimesSquarePortal.com.
Week One: Public Space
Democratic citizenship requires public spaces in which people feel safe and connected to one another. These spaces require protection from privatization, commercialization, and intimidation. Week One will connect participants at theTimesSquare_Portal to others around the world to consider the challenges facing public spaces and the public sphere.
Week Two: Food
Coinciding with International Food Day and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Week Two of theTimesSquare_Portal will focus on food. Programmed events will include Shared_Meals that will connect participants in theTimesSquare_Portal to strangers in distant Portals, who will eat together at a shared table. The food-themed events will also focus on issues of hunger in America and around the world.
Week Three: Migration
Week Three in the TimesSquare_Portal will focus on migration. This week will feature one-on-one dialogues and Shared_Meals with refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq, Gaza, Yemen, Rwanda, Germany, and Yangon. It will also involve two days focused on migration across America’s southern border and the fate of “Dreamers” in America. As this week also marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, programmed activities will incorporate the stories of people across America and the world who have lost their homes to natural disaster.
Week Four: Performance
Week Four of the TimesSquare_Portal will celebrate live entertainment, connecting performers in Times Square to other Portals around the world in real-time collaborations, performances, and discussions of their craft. Halloween at theTimesSquare_Portal will also give Times Square visitors an opportunity to hear ghost stories from Mexico to Myanmar.
Week Five: Identity
Discussions and curated events over the course of Week Five will focus on race, gender, political affiliation, sex, and religion. What does gender mean today, from the U.S. to Afghanistan? As this is election week, the TimesSquare_Portal will connect to Portals across America to encourage intimate dialogues between participants of different political stripes. We will also hear about how the world sees America in the age of Trump, and feature an event with members of the LGBTQ+ community around the globe.
Week Six: Change
From the heart of the iconic location where Americans welcome fresh starts and change each New Year, theTimesSquare_Portal will feature dialogues and programmed events exploring change in many forms, from the global and universal to the personal and political. Dialogues and events will explore issues ranging from climate change and criminal justice reform to aging and falling in and out of love. During one featured event during Week Six, formerly incarcerated Americans from across the country will share their stories of prison and reentry into society.
Week Seven: Gratitude
The TimesSquare_Portal activation will conclude during the week of Thanksgiving with a series of Shared_Thanksgiving meals connecting the TimesSquare_Portal to other Portals throughout the U.S.
TimesSquare_Portal rendering courtesy of Shared_Studios, original photo by Michael Grimm for Times Square Alliance.