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Arrivals + Departures
Photograph: (c) Sam Polcer

These traditional train station boards outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall are actually a public art display

Called 'Arrivals+Departures,' the installation honors both those who have been born and those we've lost.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Right outside the main entrance of Brooklyn Borough Hall, passerby may notice traditional-looking train station arrivals and departures boards. No, the destination doesn't suddenly belong to the city's public transportation system. The boards are actually a public art installation by UK-based social practice artists YARA+DAVINA, set up by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Photograph: Courtesy of BAM

On display through April 11 across the street from 209 Joralemon Street, the large-scale installation is completely free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The first iteration of the project debuted in London, at the Somerset House, just last year and this newest version actually functions as a kickoff to BAM's spring 2021 season which, you guessed it, includes a whole lot of outdoor programs.

The artists behind the work, Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond, seek to pay tribute to "both those entering the world and leaving it," according to an official press release about the engagement.

"Five years ago, we were having conversations around birth and death: who gets named and honored and who doesn't," the duo says via email. "For example, when a natural disaster happens outside of the United States and Europe, the press gives numbers of people that have died. If these happen in the West, names and even stories are given. This really simple act of naming or omitting names [got] us thinking about the power of naming, public memorials, who they honor and exclude."

Arrivals+Departures is the result of that thought process. Both boards are public-driven, constantly displaying different names submitted by folks online right here. Full disclosure: although plenty of the featured personalities were born in 2020, a lot of older people are being honored as well. 

Photograph: Courtesy of BAM

As for the "departed" section, expect the likes of Breonna Taylor—the 26-year-old African American woman who was fatally shot in her Louisville apartment last year—to share space with BAM's DanceAfrica founder Baba Chuck Davis, Mexican environmental activist Homero Gómez González and even one's Granny Helga, among others. 

In an effort to "explore issues around birth, life, death, loss and collective grief" while also changing "who is honored through public statues and memorials," the boards feature a rotating roster of names. On International Women's Day last week, for example, the arrivals installation featured the names of "seven women who have deeply inspired" the artists' practice, according to the duo's official Instagram account.

To check out more of what BAM has in store for New Yorkers this upcoming season, browse through the destination's spring program right here.

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