Polar Rainbow

​Kristaps Ancāns

Curated by Corina L. Apostol (Tallinn Art Hall)

Latvian-British artist Kristaps Ancāns’s Polar Rainbow brings a virtual rainbow to the sky above Times Square for the entire month of June, visible through your phone. Inspired by the discovery that rainbows do not exist in the North or South pole, the augmented reality sculpture Polar Rainbow creates a virtual double rainbow stretching between the two poles along the 74W meridian line — the most populous meridian in the Americas, which happens to cut right through Times Square along 7th Avenue.

Polar Rainbow App, App Store for iPhone and iPad
Polar Rainbow App, Google Play

The best viewing location in Times Square for the virtual rainbow is along 7th Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets.

Ancāns created Polar Rainbow in support of communities under duress, calling for visions of empathy, awareness and solidarity. The project is inspired by the 1989 “Baltic Chain of Freedom”, when approximately two million people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands and linked arms to form a human chain. As a peaceful political demonstration, the chain spanned 430 miles across the respective countries' borders during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Polar Rainbow will appear in Times Square from June 1–30, 2022 in honor of Pride month. After its debut over New York City and the many communities that share the very same longitude, Polar Rainbow will be rotated around the globe, finding temporary destinations for this unifying intervention.

“I believe that art today has to define new additional tasks for itself to prepare us for a world with new points of reference appearing. Historically, standing for human rights has emerged from different local contexts; since then, we have developed new technologies, and have created tools of inspiration and support that can globally unite communities. The rainbow uniting both poles reminds us of the challenges that persist and, at the same time, that the arc of temporality can bring lasting change.”
— Kristaps Ancāns

Curated by Corina L. Apostol (Tallinn Art Hall), the sculpture will be accessible via the Polar Rainbow app developed by Ancāns in close collaboration with Platvorm, a data visualization studio based in Tallinn, Estonia. App users will be able create personalized photos with the rainbow and send personalized "digital postcards" by posting on social and using the hashtag #polarrainbow. Visitors and spectators can download the app through a QR code in Times Square, or online, at the links below.

Polar Rainbow will kick off an exciting lineup of Pride events hosted in Times Square throughout the month of June.

Ancāns, Apostol, and Times Square Arts have invited partners from various international organizations and communities to reach out to people geographically located in NYC and all along the 74W meridian line where the rainbow will be visible. The LGBTQIA+ advocacy organizations below (list in formation) will share and promote the rainbow on their respective platforms:

BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (NY/US), BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange (NY/US), GLITS (Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society) (NY/US), Gay & Sober (NY/US), Global Black Gay Men Connect (NY/US), Gotham Cheer (NY/US), Harlem Pride (NY/US), Harlem SGL • LGBTQ Center (NY/US), Heritage of Pride (NY/US), InterPride (US),  Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (NY/US), Masculine Identified Lesbians of Color Collective (NY/US), Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) (International), EDGE New Jersey (NJ/US), Jersey City LGBTQ+ Pride Festival (NJ/US), Archives gaies du Québec (MON/CAN), Égale (MON/CAN), Gay & Grey Montréal (MON/CAN), Fierté Littéraire (MON/CAN), LGBT+ Family Coalition (Coalition des familles LGBT+) (MON/CAN), Queering The Map (MON/CAN), Agrupación Lésbica Rompiendo el Silencio (CL), La Red Nacional de Municipalidades por la Diversidad, Inclusión y No Discriminación (CL), Fundación Iguales (CL), SEROvie (HT)

Polar Rainbow is produced in cooperation with Tallinn Art Hall, the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and the Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation.

Kristaps Ancāns (b. Līvāni, Latvia) is an artist, writer and educator whose practice spans installation, sculpture, language and moving images. Ancāns explores the confusion in the relationship between humans, nature and machines through an evolving conceptual game with its own artificial intelligence. His installations—often containing a kinetic component—welcome questioning in their relationship with the viewer.

Ancāns has exhibited, lectured and taught at venues internationally, including Publiek Park/S.M.A.K Museum, domobaal, The Latvian National Opera and Ballet, Riga International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Art Station Dubulti, Careva Contemporary, Code Art Fair, Tate Exchange/Tate Modern, Museum of London, Royal Academy of Arts London, Hyde Park-London, Central Saint Martins/UAL, PEER, Five Years, Shoreditch Library, Derby Museum, and Art Gallery, Vienna Contemporary, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn Art Hall, Setouchi Triennale and Tokyo University of the Arts. He lives between Riga, Latvia and London, UK.

Dr. Corina L. Apostol (b. Constanța, Romania) is a curator at the Tallinn Art Hall, curator and member of the steering committee of the international practice-based research project Beyond Matter (2019–2023), and the curator of the Estonian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022). She currently serves as a guest lecturer at POST - MA programme of study at the Art Academy of Latvia. Previously,  she was the Mellon Fellow at Creative Time, where she co-edited Making Another World Possible: 10 Creative Time Summits, 10 Global Issues, 100 Art Projects (Routledge, 2019) and co-curated the Creative Time Summit “On Archipelagoes and Other Imaginaries” (2018) in Miami. She lives between Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia.

Platvorm is a data visualization studio specialized in meshing physical and digital space. They develop concepts and build innovative digital platforms with a focus on realtime data and dynamic user generated content. They are based in Tallinn, Estonia.