While most of us view the MTA’s bus shelters as just another way to sell advertising, the Public Art Fund sees them as opportunities for outdoor art: The non-profit behind such projects as Erwin Wurm's weinermobile and Pope L’s crowdsourced belly crawl through the streets of the West Village, is presenting Back and Forth Disco, a exhibition of photos by artist Farah Al Qasimi spread across 100 bus shelters in 18 neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.
The artist, who was born in Abu Dhabi, has installed her color photographs in the display case attached to each bus shelter, and in lieu of, say, an ad featuring Kiera Knightly pouting for Chanel, Al Qasimi presents slices of New York City life through images of streets, stores and people going about their business.
One photo shows the back of a woman’s head covered in a leopard-print shawl as she gazes into a compact mirror reflecting one of her eyes. Another pictures a white cockatoo perched on a cage inside what appears to be a store for drapes and carpeting. Still another crops in close on a sign reading, STORE CLOSING EVERYTHING MUST GO.
Al Qasimi's choice of subjects is both surreal and seemingly random, but it’s fairer to say that she is capturing the uncanny rhythm of disparate sights coalescing into a singular experience. Back and Forth Disco remains on view through May 17, and you can find an interactive map of locations here.