When was the last time you used a phone booth?
Whether you use them or not, there’s no denying that payphones are iconic features of city streetscapes, particularly those of New York City. It comes as good news then, that twelve forsaken phone booths on 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan are currently hosting an outdoor exhibition before they’re removed from the city forever.
Presented by Mexican gallery kurimanzutto, TITAN is an exhibition project conceived by Damián Ortega and Bree Zucker, and named after the now defunct transit advertising firm. Featuring twelve artists over twelve weeks—including Anne Collier, Cildo Meireles, Glenn Ligon, Hal Fischer, Hans Haacke, Jimmie Durham, Minerva Cuevas, Patti Smith, Renée Green, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Yvonne Rainer and Zoe Leonard—TITAN is all about taking the incredible art outside of the white cube and into the public sphere for all to see.
Using these phone booth kiosks not only forgoes tradition, but completely redefines the potential of unused real estate in one of the biggest cities in the world. What were previously ‘outcast denizens of the city’ (as Zucker puts it), have now become living gallery spaces, open and free to view all hours of the day and night. Intervening a pre-existing communication channel, the booths highlight a specific artery of the city, positioned in a short circuit that can be walked in a loop and navigated via a map provided on the exhibition website.
Each artist has their own booth and in place of advertisements, their work is featured on the three exterior sides of the kiosk. Many of the works are text-focused, and as the show began preceding the election, all rally for positive change. Such as Patti Smith’s, with her work It’s in our hands, depicting a black and white photograph of the artist’s hand with the simple gesture ‘Vote’ handwritten on her palm (complimented by the impromptu performance she held next to it of ‘People Have The Power’ with her guitarist Lenny Kaye).
Other works like Jimmie Durham’s YOU ARE HERE are a homage to being lost and unsure, while Anne Collier revisits past works asking existential questions like, ‘How do we know what we know? What is the source and how reliable is it?’ in her work Questions (Evidence) (Detail). Collectively, TITAN is testament to the fact that we can always count on art to steady us, and ultimately pull us through strange and challenging times.
By utilising these historical sites of communication, TITAN has nurtured a memorable dialogue rooted in everyday experience, imagination and community. Despite its temporary existence before the kiosks are removed early next year, the exhibition continues through to January 3rd 2021.
For more information visit titan.kurimanzutto.com