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The Future of Telecommunications Was Here

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Phone Art Box Project

The Future of Telecommunications Was Here



246 Elm Street, Somerville

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Allison Tanenhaus

"Over half a decade, I came to know this phone box's many surfaces, and kept tabs on its new stickers and spray-painted developments. Although I never spoke into it when it was a functioning phone, it nonetheless feels like I've had a dialogue with it for years.

Prepping the phone box for my installation was a tricky balance. I wanted to conserve the spirit of its more recent use (essentially, a bulletin board for local poster announcements, and a canvas for collected street-art stickers), while sprucing it up for its big transformation.I landed on a bit of a compromise. I polished the inside until it gleamed, but only gently washed the outside, ridding it of grime and accumulated tape from flyers past, while preserving more recent stickers and graffiti. (Older stickers were already covered with layers of silver spray paint—a touch-up job by another invested visitor, I presume.)

My piece aims to honor the phone box's past and present. Sealed off and preserved, the original interior phone machinery (or the "exoskeleton" that's left of it, at least) is now a historical object in a custom display case. Meanwhile, the text that hovers above is a modern ode to technological ephemerality—and hopefully starts a new conversation each day. "   As told by the artist Allison Tanenhaus