Free and Open to the Public, Fountain Encrusted in Nearly 400,000 Acrylic Fingernails Invites Public to Reflect on Survival
Plus Pamela Council’s First Midnight Moment Nail Film, Broadcast in Conjunction with Project for the Month of November
(NEW YORK, NY — October 7, 2021) — Times Square Arts and artist Pamela Council are pleased to unveil the artist’s first public artwork, A Fountain for Survivors, on October 14, 2021. The immersive installation, sheltered in a grotto-like structure covered in nearly 400,000 acrylic nails, is both an ode to how we maintain ourselves and an exuberant life-affirming monument for survivors.
The public reveal of A Fountain for Survivors will take place Thursday, October 14 at 11AM in Duffy Square, Times Square’s most iconic plaza. Council and Times Square Arts will transform Duffy Square into a glamorous experience, complete with a DJ set by Brooklyn-based multi-hyphenate Donwill, a glam cam photo booth, caricature portrait drawings, and snacks including hot dogs provided by Times Square vendors, Krispy Kreme donuts, and New York’s finest flavored street nuts provided by Nuts 4 Nuts. At the ceremony, Sistas Van, a trauma-informed, survivor-centered Mobile Healing Unit created and managed by Black Women’s Blueprint, will be delivering food boxes with fresh vegetables and prepared foods, hygiene and beauty kits, diapers and formula, herbs, and more.
Free and open to the public, the colorful, 18-foot tall structure builds on a body of work the artist refers to as ‘Fountains for Black Joy.’ A cocoon-like and hooded carapace—a protective covering encrusted in nearly 400,000 hand-placed acrylic fingernails—will house a tiered fountain inside for visitors to experience a private moment of comfort and reflection on survival. Designed to be a welcoming, warm, and enveloping space, visitors will enter the structure and encounter a range of sensory experiences, such as heat, sound, and scent.
For the month of November, A Fountain for Survivors will be accompanied by Pamela Council’s Midnight Moment video, which will be broadcast across 80 billboards in Times Square from 11:57pm to midnight. Council’s film will be the first Midnight Moment presented in conjunction with a major public art project in Times Square. Council’s work, titled Talking Hands – Watch My Nails Don’t Watch Me, features choreographed close-ups of entrepreneur Amber Wagner’s beautifully manicured hands performing activities such as conversing with a friend, squeezing fruit, and caressing soft surfaces, spotlighting the expressive role decorative nails play in communication and culture. To celebrate the Midnight Moment, Council and Times Square Arts will host a late-night party on the plaza on November 12 with comedy, pole dancing, and music.
Throughout the project’s run, Times Square Arts and Pamela Council will activate the sculpture with “Survivors Series,” a digital interview series with local and celebrity voices on themes of survival and advocacy; “Is Your House in Order,” a virtual workshop with Pamela and Lori Anne Douglas, Esq., who will discuss maintaining survival and preserving legacy through will writing and estate planning; an ongoing playlist within the fountain with genres ranging from Soul to R&B to Hip-Hop, featuring songs like Survivor by Destiny’s Child, Stay Flo by Solange, and This Is It by Kenny Loggins; and 8-foot tall topiaries created by topiary artist Mike Gibson—a recent contestant on Martha Stewart’s HGTV show Clipped—accompanying the structure. Visitors will be invited to pick up a special Wishing Wafer, a coin-shaped soluble wafer scented with the essential oils of Florida Water—a cologne used in a range of spiritual traditions and known for its purifying and healing properties—to toss into the fountain for a fizzy, lucky moment. Mirroring the familiar and joyful gesture of tossing a coin into a fountain, Council has worked with small business owners and product designers to create this completely new product.
As a historic hub for celebration, performance, protest, and gathering, and as a place that has kept sparkling whether seeing approximately 30,000 daily pedestrians at the height of the pandemic to over 200,000 at present, Times Square is a fitting platform for Council's fountain. In the midst of Times Square's multi-sensory backdrop, A Fountain for Survivors acts as a communal but intimate site. The maximalist installation—encompassing hundreds of thousands of shiny, colorful fingernails, illuminating lights, and bold colors—offers a diversion from the spectacle of Times Square as it provides visitors with a private moment for contemplation and pleasure.
Credits and Acknowledgment
A Fountain for Survivors is commissioned by Times Square Arts with generous support provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and in part through support from the New York State Council on the Arts and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Council received NYFA City Corps award for project programming.
Thank you to UOVO for support of this project through the transport, art handling and storage of the work. Agger Fish Building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard was donated by Marc Agger for fabrication support.
Fabrication by Spaeth Design and Powerhouse Arts. Structural Engineering by Arup. Accent nails designed and created in collaboration with Sonya Belakhlef & Imagine Uhlenbrook.
Thank you to Denny Dimin Gallery.
ABOUT PAMELA COUNCIL
(b.1986 Southampton, New York, lives and works in New York City & Newark, NJ)
Pamela Council is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist creating fountains for Black joy. Guided by material, cultural, and metaphysical quests, Council’s practice embodies a darkly humorous, maximalist, and inventive Afro-Americana camp aesthetic called BLAXIDERMY. Through this lens, Council uses sculpture, print, design, architecture, writing, and performance to shed light on under-examined narratives and to make tributes, offerings, and dedications.
Council has created commissions, exhibitions, performances, or presentations for the New Museum for Contemporary Art, United States Library of Congress, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Studio Museum in Harlem, Nike, and MoCADA. Council has been Artist-in-Residence at MacDowell, ISCP, Red Bull Arts, Bemis Center, Mass MoCA, and Wassaic Project. A recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, Toby Devan Lewis Award, and Newark Creative Catalyst Award as a studio member of Project for Empty Space, Council holds a BA from Williams College and an MFA from Columbia University.
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, such as Mel Chin, Tracey Emin, Jeffrey Gibson, Ryan McGinley, Yoko Ono, and Kehinde Wiley, 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.
Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel
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