While walking in the Big Apple a few years ago, Antonia Wright stumbled upon a key on a sidewalk and found herself wondering what secrets it held. I remember looking down and whispering, Who owns you? the artist recalls. Before long, she was finding lost or discarded keys all over the city, and her desire to unravel their stories became an itch she could not control. The keys unlocked an obsession that has turned into an ongoing arts project with the goal of collecting eight million keys, or one for every resident of New York City.
I became obsessed with wanting to know what the people who owned them looked like, the Miami native explains. I posted an ad on Craigslist that said, Artist needs keys, please! and ended up meeting and photographing thousands of people who gave me their keys and shared their stories. At first she snapped only Polaroids of people standing in front of their doors; then she began taking more complex portraits when subjects informed her the donated key had belonged to an ex-lover or a deceased relative. I like to think that for every key I take, Im opening another door, Wright says.
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The Keys Project, Wrights interactive exhibit opening tonight at 8:00 at the Moksha Family Space, invites all to B.Y.O.K., or bring your old keys, to gain entrance to a rollicking blowout featuring photography, poetry, two open bars, and live music. I began doing these events as a way to bring people together and get them to open up, Wright chirps. The only way to enter is by giving me their keys and letting me photograph them. I will have clotheslines strung along the walls where all the participants photographs will be displayed. Call 305-757-7277, or visit www.thekeysproject.com.
Fri., June 16