Black voguers to grace NYC billboards in ‘Midnight Moment’

'Midnight Moment' is the world's largest, longest running digital art exhibition, according to Times Square Arts

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Before midnight every night in the month of December, 70 digital billboards in New York City’s Times Square will showcase the images of Black voguers, for three minutes.

Rashaad Newsome, a multidisciplinary artist, reconstructed footage from live performances of his 2019 piece “Black Magic” which will illuminate the billboards according to the New York Times.

Newsome, 40, a native of New Orleans who is now based in Oakland, California, and Brooklyn, felt that displaying dances of resistance, protest, and performance “was a great proposition to do something transgressive.”

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art and Times Square Arts have jointly commissioned the performance piece entitled “Midnight Moment” which will premiere on Tuesday, Dec. 1 to coincide with World AIDS Day.

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On Dec. 10 at 11:30 p.m., dancers from the ballroom community — the community of African American and Latinx people who cultivated the dance form known as “vogue” — will perform live on the red steps of Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets before the “Midnight Moment.”

“I want it to be a memorial to those who have fallen,” Newsome said in recognition of both the AIDS epidemic and coronavirus pandemic that has impacted African Americans

Prior to the pandemic, the average of foot traffic in Times Square in January was 303,338 according to Times Square NYC. That number would plummet to 33,320 visitors daily in April. October reports showed 107,598 daily visitors.

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Jean Cooney, director of Times Square Arts, says that even with restrictions, there are still opportunities for their message to reach audiences through social media.

“Knowing that so many media outlets and cameras were trained on Times Square, there was the potential for those messages – even if we were all watching from home – to be amplified to New Yorkers and people around the world,” Cooney told the New York Times.

A billboard illustrating the killing of George Floyd hangs in Times Square on November 1, 2020 in New York City. The artwork on the billboard was painted by Donald Perlis and includes a quote by the Dalai Lama which reads “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

During the pandemic, organizers have used the Times Square billboards to convey messages of health, hope and resistance. Donald Peris’s painting depicting the death of George Floyd was showcased in Times Square earlier this year.

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