Building on a body of work artist Pamela Council refers to as ‘Fountains for Black Joy,’ A Fountain for Survivors is both an ode to the ways in which we maintain ourselves and an exuberant life-affirming monument for survivors of all kinds. Adorned with a handmade mosaic of hundreds of thousands of acrylic fingernails, a massive cocoon-like structure houses a tiered water fountain inside a warm, welcoming, and enveloping space. Council’s largest public artwork to date, A Fountain for Survivors will be on view and accessible to all in Times Square’s most iconic plaza, Duffy Square, from October 14 to December 8, 2021.
Mirroring the spectacular and vibrant vernacular of Times Square itself, Council’s maximalist installation features glimmering fingernails, kinetic illumination, and swaths of bold colors across the extraordinary 18-foot tall carapace — the artwork’s protective, hooded outer shell. Meanwhile, the intimate interior hosting the artist-designed water feature welcomes visitors with a range of sensory experiences including heat, sound, and scent. Council envisions this fountain as an offering to Survivors.
“A Fountain for Survivors is a sheltered fountain in an iconic public space. Adorned and protected by a carapace of hundreds of thousands of acrylic fingernails, this fountain is my dedication and offering to Survivors and is open to the public that is outside in Times Square. On the topic of definition, Survivors know who they are; no one else can proclaim that for you. Conceived and created during a time when we are socially distanced, my goal with this work is to make a temporary monument that mirrors the experiences of masking & interiority that many have known, and which have now become a part of all of our lives. I started working with acrylic fingernails, that Black femme craft and protective style, over 13 years ago, and they have since become ubiquitous. So, I am most excited about the expressions of imagination that this work already has and will continue to inspire.”….. Pamela Council.
As with much of their work, Council’s installation creates a distinct dynamic that treads the line between the familiar and the unexpected. Defined by exuberant color, elaborate adornments, and an Afro-Americana camp aesthetic the artist calls BLAXIDERMY, Council’s ‘Fountains for Black Joy’ explore nostalgia and grooming rituals that are both personal and political and are intended to make space for healing and pleasure. In previous works, water is replaced in fountains with bubbling bright red soda and cascades of Luster’s Pink Lotion.
Throughout the exhibition, Council and Times Square Arts will be sharing an interview series, virtual workshops, and live performances themed around joy and survival — and in November, a Midnight Moment. Stay tuned for more updates and details!
Pamela Council: A Fountain for Survivors will be on view from October 14 to December 8, 2021 in Duffy Square, Broadway at 46th Street, NYC in Times Square!
Credits and Acknowledgements ~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 also 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 generously donated by Marc Agger for fabrication support.