If you’ve walked past Times Square in New York, you might’ve seen three unusual looking phone booths. Those booths are part of an artwork called ‘Once Upon A Place’ and tell the stories of 70 immigrants who now live in New York. This is a project by Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi.
For this project the artist spent his time reaching out to mosques, synagogues and community centres, searching for immigrants who were willing to share their stories. He managed to collect stories from all over the world by either meeting with them one-on-one or calling them.
Mojadidi picked retired booths from LinkNYC to include in his project. Those were filled with garbage but after a careful refurbishment he gave the booths a new purpose.
His projects nearly always focus on globalization, conflict and identity and that’s what he’s trying to do with this artwork as well. The booths make it possible for the public to hear recorded interviews about personal journeys, thoughts and opinions of the immigrants.
The instalment opened on June 27, a day after the Supreme Court allowed parts of Trump’s travel ban into action. Mojadidi welcomed the timing saying, ‘’I’m quite pleased to see ‘Once Upon a Place’ realized in this moment of anti-immigrant hysteria. There is so much going on in the terms of raids and deportations, I couldn’t have asked for a better time for the project to have happened.’’ He finds it weird that goods and products can traverse borders freely whereas people often cannot. He told VICE: ‘’Trying to stick to these old ideas of borders is something that’s just not realistic anymore.’’
‘‘Once Upon A Place’ aims to celebrate immigrants and remind people of their humanity’’, he told artnet News. He also wants people to understand that great metropolitan cities are almost always built by immigrants who come, work, settle and live there.
This article is written by Hanane Bouderqa.