New Art Project Wants to Make Friends in Times Square

By Ben Fractenberg on August 18, 2011 2:41pm 

Marwa Ayad, 24, was hanging out in a Meeting Bowl Thursday afternoon. She said she had met four or five people in the bowl.
Marwa Ayad, 24, was hanging out in a Meeting Bowl Thursday afternoon. She said she had met four or five people in the bowl.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MIDTOWN — A new art project in Times Square aims to get tourists and New Yorkers into meeting new people.

Meeting Bowls — a collaborative art project by Alberto Alarcón, Emilio Alarcón, Ciro Márquez and Eva Salmerón from Madrid — are raised wooden platforms with a wraparound frame, rounded in the shape of a bowl or a teacup. They have bench seating around the edges and have plenty of room, seating approximately five adults or more.

The bowls, which opened Wednesday on Broadway and West 46th Street, gently rock back and forth, causing some passersby Thursday afternoon to treat them more like a game than meeting space.

But Marwa Ayad, 24, of Brooklyn, showed up early for a job interview near Times Square, and killed some time making new friends with the people hanging out in the bowls.

"Usually in New York people don't talk to each other," said Ayad

She said she met a few tourists who were equally impressed with the project.

"We were talking about how cool of an idea they are."

Three promoters for Cirque Du Soleil's Zarkana show, playing at Radio City Music Hall through the fall, used the bowls as a promotional tool.

Ryan LaTour, 26, hung out inside one of the bowls dressed in a top hat accompanied by two other female promoters wearing dresses shaped like umbrellas.

LaTour leaned over to hand someone a pamphlet for Zarkana, tipping the bowl sideways as he reached for the passerby, who kept walking without taking it. The man had a perplexed look on his face.

LaTour said when the exhibit first opened, he and some colleagues tried them out, jumping into a bowl with people already inside. He said their enthusiasm attracted plenty of strange stares.

"They didn't know how to take it," he said.

The bowls will be open daily from 8 a.m. until midnight through Sept. 19.

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