BroadwayWorld: TimesSquare Portal Brings the World to Times Square

In partnership with Shared_Studios, Times Square Arts brings the TimesSquare_Portal to the Broadway Plaza between 46th & 47th Street, allowing Times Square visitors to interact with people across thirty locations in twenty countries as though they are in the same room. The interactive public art installation will run from October 10 to November 21, 2017. All are invited to book free timed reservations in the Portal at www.TimesSquarePortal.com. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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.

Debra Simon, Times Square Arts Director, said, "The TimesSquare_Portal is located in the perfect venue to encourage dialogue concerning global topics that impact everyone."

Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said, "This project brings a new level to Times Square's moniker, the Crossroads of the World, letting us reach out globally to learn from each other."

Amar Bakshi, Shared_Studios Founder & Creative Director, said, "Portals is about highlighting the incredible beauty and power that emerges from diverse human beings interacting across all forms of distance. Times Square and its surrounding community have long harnessed that power, and we are thrilled to see what emerges from Portals at this iconic location, with this dynamic community."

Opening Connection and Dialogue with the Artist Behind Portals, Tuesday, October 10, 10:30-11:30 AM. Artist Amar C. Bakshi, the creator of Portals, will be on site at the TimesSquare_Portal to share the history of Portals and kick off the installation's first connection to Herat, Afghanistan.

Global Dialogue: What Should Americans Do with Public Monuments to Confederate Leaders? Lessons, Insights, and Warnings from Afghanistan, Gaza, Germany, and Rwanda, Thursday-Friday, October 12-13, 9:00 AM-9:00 PM. Citizens from around the world will discuss controversial public monuments in their country. Both evenings from 5:00-9:00 PM, the TimesSquare_Portal will connect to two American sites to continue the discussion: 53206, the zip code in Milwaukee with the highest black male incarceration rate in the country, and Colorado Springs, which is among America's most conservative cities.

Tex-Mex in the Age of Trump, Monday, October 16, 7:00-9:00 PM. Two contemporary chefs share the history of fusion recipes and lead diners in a discussion of Mexican-American relations in the age of Trump.

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: What Would You Take With You If You Had to Flee Your Home? Whether fleeing violent regimes, natural disasters, or intolerant societies, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons must leave much behind. Several discussions and events throughout the week will explore the refugee experience and what matters most and why:

  • What We Carry With Us: Refugee Storytelling Lab, Monday-Wednesday, October 23-25, 5:00-7:00 PM. Presented in partnership with Citizen Film and the University of California, Berkeley's Magnes Collection.
  • Life after Syria: Discussions About Daily Life with Refugees in Berlin and Amman, Tuesday, October 24, 9:00 AM-3:00 PM.
  • Rebuilding a Life After Natural Disaster: Dialogues on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Saturday, October 28, 2017, 9:00 AM-9:30 PM.

Ghost Stories from Around the Globe, Tuesday-Wednesday, October 31-November 1, 5:30 PM-3:30 AM. On Halloween, TimesSquare_Portal participants can exchange ghost stories from across the country and around the world during connections with Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Astana, and Yangon. Scary stories will be shared until 3:30 AM, but they might keep you up all night.

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Weekly Themes

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 the TimesSquare_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 the TimesSquare_Portal will focus on food. Programmed events will include Shared_Meals that will connect participants in the TimesSquare_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 the TimesSquare_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, the TimesSquare_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.

About Times Square Arts

Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas, and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation, and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit http://www.timessquarenyc.org/times-square-arts/index.aspx for more information. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @TSqArts.

About Shared_Studios

Shared_Studios is a multidisciplinary art, design, and technology collective building an Internet you can walk through. With innovations in hardware, software, and design, Shared_Studios creates interconnected environments around the world that feel spatially continuous. Their flagship project, Portals, was created by artist Amar C. Bakshi in 2014. Portals are gold spaces equipped with immersive audiovisual technology. When you enter a Portal, you come face-to-face with someone in a distant Portal live and full-body, as if in the same room. Since launch, Portals have expanded to 30 sites around the world and connected more than 65,000 people in conversation, collaboration, and play.