A citywide public art project that allows every New Yorker and visitor to open spaces in all five boroughs.
Kiosk open June 3 to 27, 2010 Times Square, Broadway Between 43rd & 44th Sts Open M–F 2p–8p; Sa–Su 12p–8p
Born in California and raised in Honduras, Paul Ramírez Jonas currently lives, works, and teaches in New York City. In his practice, he challenges the boundaries between artwork and spectator by asking participants to contribute something—such as a penny, wish, or key—in order to fully engage with his projects. Key to the City is not the first time that Ramírez Jonas has explored the creative possibilities of the key. In Mi Casa Su Casa (2005), he delivered a series of lectures about how space can be defined as either locked or unlocked, before inviting the audience to exchange keys with him and one another. The same year, he created a permanent work of public art, a small park called Taylor Square, for Cambridge, Massachusetts. 5,000 keys to the park’s gate were mailed to the homes closest to the commons, symbolizing a shared sense of ownership. Finally, Ramírez Jonas’ project Talisman (2008) for the 28th São Paulo Biennial asked visitors to engage in a public agreement, leaving behind a copy of one of their own keys in exchange for a key to the front door of the iconic Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavillion that housed the biennial. Key to the City expands his longstanding interest in the key not so much as an object, but a vehicle for exploring social contracts as they pertain to trust, access, and belonging.
Part scavenger hunt, part re-introduction to overlooked city monuments, whether they be a cathedral or neighborhood soda fountain, the project unlocks private rooms and displays in locations including the Whitney's coat check, a closet in the master bedroom on the 2nd floor of Gracie Mansion , a locker at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn and a room at Queens' Tortilleria Nixtamal. Anyone can give a key as many times as they like, but all keys must be be bestowed at the kiosk to a friend, colleague, or loved one for a certain deed or trait.
Ramírez Jonas holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from Brown University. He has received numerous honors, exhibited internationally, and lectured at universities across the country.