Subway performers–along with “pole hogs,” manspreaders, and backpack-wearers–are one of the many targets of the MTA’s latest shame-mongering “Courtesy Counts” campaign. “Poles Are For Your Safety, Not Your Latest Routine… A Subway Car Is No Place For Showtime” the signs scold.
Despite what the MTA wants you to think, plenty commuters actually like watching these impromptu dance parties. And some might even be willing to pay more than $2.25 to watch them. A new interactive installation at the Brooklyn Museum, called “Public Disruption/Private Powers,” loosely recreates a subway car with room dividers and poles in the majestic Beaux-Arts Court, where subway dancers from the teen troupe WeLiveThis will perform routines every half hour this Sunday. Curators Jackie Danziger and Rebecca Posner, graduate students at the Performance and Interactive Media Arts program at Brooklyn College, raised funds for the piece in collaboration with the museum on Kickstarter. “Our goal is to reimagine the interactive space of public transportation, challenge notions of shared space, and give power to the creative vision of our young collaborators,” the artists write.
The show is technically free with museum admission, but to gain access to the “X” train (short for “exuberance”), visitors will have to write their personal dreams onto a Metro Card-shaped piece of paper. By having subway dancers perform in an arts institution as vaunted as the Brooklyn Museum, the curators present them as artists worthy of real attention, something commuters might not always consider while crammed in a train car, trying not to get kicked in the face by a kid backflipping down the aisle.
The “Public Disruption/Private Powers” installation opens at 12:30 p.m. and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 17 on the third floor of the Brooklyn Museum. The event is free with museum admission.