Public Prayer Booths

On an excursion to the Upper East Side, I noticed what appeared to be — from a distance — a telephone booth. Sort of. But something about the booth seemed a little bit “off.”

I went closer to investigate and saw that it wasn’t a phone booth at all. A sign posted on the nearby fence explained that this was a sculpture called Public Prayer Booth by artist Dylan Mortimer and said that, “According to the artist, this work is meant to spark dialogue about how private faith functions within the public realm.” Constructed of aluminum, plastic and vinyl, it combines the ideas of a telephone booth and a prayer station and includes a padded, blue flip-down kneeler.

The Kansas City-based artist says, “My goal is to spark dialogue about a topic often avoided, and often treated cynically by the contemporary art world. I employ the visual language of signage and public information systems, using them as a contemporary form of older religious communication systems: stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, church furniture, etc. I balance humor and seriousness, sarcasm and sincerity, in a way that bridges a subject matter that is often presented as heavy or difficult.”

Two Prayer Booths are on display in Tramway Plaza (near the entrance to the Roosevelt Island Tram) until the end of this month.

Booth near the entrance to the Roosevelt Island Tram

The sign on the fence explains the work

Instructions for using the kneeler

Someone has slapped stickers on this booth

Most people don’t seem to notice the booths

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation: Dylan Mortimer
Dylan Mortimer

8 Responses to Public Prayer Booths

  1. Trevor says:

    Interesting. Thanks for posting this.


  2. photowannabe says:

    I have to admit this should spark questions. I hate to see it defaced even if it is a bit odd. Very interesting pictures.


  3. ken mac says:

    if any city needs prayer, its this one!


  4. I think they are calling this “Public Art”. I read that somewhere…


  5. anna says:

    What a cool blog about Brooklyn and New York.

    P.S. Your link on the BUST “Girl Wide Web” thing still links to your old address.


  6. prayer becomes a ritual with the use of these booths
    kind of like a streetside chapel
    very interesting post


  7. Ottawabill says:

    Thanks for the details annulla. What a fascinating project. I adore it . It is one of those head slapping “why did’t I think of that” kind of ideas…so beautiful and yet so simple and direct. Thanks too for the link to the artist’s site. You’re the best !

    I love that one of them got defaced, it shows how it fitted in with the environment and is a comment on the nature of the public’s interaction with its environment.


  8. Indissofeds says:

    А у тебя посты никто не ворует c блога? А то меня вывели уже – тырят и тырят

    здесь видел ет


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