Talking Hands, still, hands crushing greenery, masthead

Film still from Talking Hands – Watch My Nails Don’t Watch Me by Pamela Council. Courtesy the artist and Times Square Arts

(NEW YORK, NY — November 1, 2021) — Times Square Arts, the largest public platform for contemporary performance and visual arts, is pleased to present Talking Hands – Watch My Nails Don’t Watch Me by Pamela Council for the month of November as part of the organization’s signature Midnight Moment series. Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized on 80 electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight.

The Midnight Moment coincides with A Fountain for Survivors, Pamela Council’s immersive installation sheltered in a grotto-like structure covered in nearly 400,000 acrylic nails, both an ode to how we maintain ourselves and an exuberant life-affirming monument for survivors. Council’s film will be the first Midnight Moment presented in conjunction with a major public artwork in Times Square.

Talking Hands – Watch My Nails Don’t Watch Me (2021) is inspired by Amber Wagner’s messages to the world under her social media handle @jstlbby and high femme legacies of ministry. Through her motivational messages of faith and positivity, Wagner has created a visual language with her hands that she generously offers over to Council’s playful direction. Featuring nail art by Britney Fahie, the work admires Wagner’s well-manicured hands interacting with nourishing materials, including oil, fruits, and hair beads, or engaging in self-soothing gestures on a phone call to a friend. Tactile vignettes with saturated backdrops are punctuated intermittently by motion-trail effects, which harken to pop music videos, sci-fi, and religious iconography. Whether squeezing fruit or caressing soft surfaces, Wagner’s hands are a work of art, expressing multitudes and moving with deliberation.

This work celebrates a thriving global culture of independent artists and clients who collaborate on artistic creations which, though visible on the tips of a finger, extend literally into the social and political dynamics of the world around us. "Long fingernails get your attention—hypervisibility. They also give the person wearing them access to a whole new language and way of carrying on. When she talks to us, Amber Wagner takes her nails and points them back at us. Now we feel seen. It’s subversive; it’s ministry. I see my praxis working as this kind of mirror as well, so I was honored that Ms. Wagner accepted the invitation to come play in my artistic world. I’m interested in how nails are a site—both architecture and technology—for ripe cultural conversations about the politics of beauty, movement, the right to luxuriate, surveillance, and so much more. With our nails, we can make our points clear,” said Pamela Council.

On view through December 8, 2021, A Fountain For Survivors is free and open to the public. 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.   

Featuring Amber Wagner / @jstlbby
Nail art: Britney Fahie / @balleriina.brit
Director: Pamela Council / @pamelacouncil
Director of Photography: Vashni Korin /
Editor: Kyra Thompson /
Assistant Camera: Taylor Garcia / @taylorhgarcia
Art Direction & Set Design: Pamela Council
Shot on location at Reparations Club /

Curator: Anna Harsanyi / @anna1harsanyi


(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.



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.

Ali Rigo
Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel

Catie DeWitt
Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel