TréPhonos by Project Row Houses

The Third Ward is a predominantly African American community that persevered through many difficult times to sustain their home. For example, the area is known to be poor as after world war II, they received a large group of migrants and were unable to get non-menial jobs. Then in the 1970s, their population dropped when America implemented racial integration. In addition to the fact that many of the children from the third ward graduated from Universities and have moved out for better jobs, the Third Ward was neglected and lost economic traffic.

The project TréPhonos pays tribute to the history of the Third Ward with three payphones, reprogrammed to become audio time capsules. The project was inspired by a series of hangouts in the neighbourhood and one of the collaborating Artist – Jeanette Degollado says “We have managed to create a feedback loop, where community self-determination, artist, activist, and Third Ward residents are both the input and output, informing each other, creating synergy.”

She describes the payphone to be a “symbol of public and private space”; an intersection between the two. It was a place that held people’s “connections, distance, emotions, infrastructure?, and socialization.” Therefore, people exists where payphones are.

The three booths…

1. TréMixTape

  • Features musicians from the neighborhood, including various genres and generations of local music.
  • can also be play externally when the coin release lever is held down, for multiple people to listen together.

2. TréSonic

  • ambient noise of the neighborhood

3. TréSankofa

  • voices and stories of Third Ward residents.

Is this Social Practice Art?

To be considered Social Practice Art, the project has to tick two boxes – human interaction and social discourse. I do have to take that definition with a pinch of salt as it was from Wikipedia. But it does gives more meaning and reason to the project without it being created for the sake of art.

Its goal is primarily in strengthening the community as a whole, uniting the Third Ward to engage with the stories with one another. While TréPhonos level of human engagement is high, the discourse here is a little fuzzy.



Author: Ying Hui

Hello :)

Leave a Reply