This April, Times Square Arts celebrates the 10 year anniversary of its iconic program Midnight Moment, the world’s largest and longest-running digital public art exhibition synchronized on electronic billboards in Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight. The program, which began on just six screens in Times Square, has expanded to display artwork on over 90 screens throughout the district.
To celebrate the anniversary, Times Square Arts has launched a special program featuring twelve female-identifying artists over the course of a year, from April 2022 through March 2023. Presenting artists include legendary video artist Joan Jonas, biology-inspired artist Sofia Crespo, new media artist and creative technologist LaJuné McMillian, new media artist Nancy Baker Cahill, and multi-disciplinary artist and performer Kilo Kish, who released her new album American Gurl today.
“In looking back at how much the program has grown throughout the years to showcase over 100 artists on now nearly 100 screens, it’s impossible to overlook the many women who have played an important role leading up to the program’s launch, making space for free public art in one of the most powerful commercial places in the world,” said Jean Cooney, Times Square Arts Director. “Midnight Moment continues to serve as a stage for artists to share their work with hundreds of thousands of viewers, and it’s an honor to turn this platform over to twelve remarkable women artists for our program this year.”
The 10-year anniversary pays homage to the female administrators, artists, and programmers who have been influential in staging public art on the commercial billboards of Times Square for over 40 years. A seminal moment for the program was in 1982 when artist Jane Dickson-who worked as a programmer for 1 Times Square-and Jenny Dixon, the Acting Director of Public Art Fund at the time, launched Messages to the Public, 1982-1990. It marked the earliest presentation of artists’ work on the Spectacolor sign, the very first electronic billboard in the history of the district. In the years that followed, public art organization Creative Time presented video programs such as 59th Minute, 2000-2006 and 44 ½, 2009-2011, led by then-director Anne Pasternak. In 2012, Sherry Dobbin, then Times Square Arts’ Director, officially launched the Midnight Moment program.
The Midnight Moment program, which has an estimated annual viewership of nearly 1.5 million, has brought innovative, spectacular, and accessible public art to New Yorkers and visitors from across the globe, 364 nights a year, for a decade. Featuring a new Midnight Moment each month, Times Square Arts has presented the work of over 115 artists, including Yoko Ono, Nick Cave, Rashaad Newsome, and Laurie Anderson, and more recently, David Hockney, Shantell Martin, Kambui Olujimi, Sondra Perry, Jeffrey Gibson, and Pamela Council.
Midnight Moment artists will be selected through invitation and open call, and represent a mix of emerging and established talent, luminaries in the field of video art, as well those in the early stages of working with the medium. The selection committee will feature guest curators throughout the year.
To kick off the anniversary, Times Square Arts will present artist Joan Jonas’s Wolf Lights (2004-2005) for the month of April, a video installation that depicts a female figure in a paper-maché wolf mask moving gracefully against the backdrop of a Las Vegas lightscape. In May, Times Square Arts will show Sofia Crespo’s video work, Critically Extant, a project that explores just how little we know about the natural world through testing the limits of the data openly available to us in our digital lives. In the months to follow, the program will feature LaJuné McMillan, Nancy Baker Cahill, and Kilo Kish and more.