During my week in Miami for Art Basel, I encountered a portal called Shared Studios. Sandwiched between two luxurious hotels and resembling a steel shipping container painted in gold, it stopped me with a peculiar interest. After a brief introduction, I was left inside the carpet-lined black box. There was a 20-foot screen in front of me in which a young woman was staring at me from her own portal… in Mexico.
Her name was Rebeca and she had her photographs to share with me. Abashed by my lack of preparation, I told her all I had to offer was my undivided attention. Our 20-minute session seemed to fly by as we discussed a range of topics, namely roles of Latin art in Miami Basel, those of gender in Latin culture, and of artists in the Internet Age. She told me about her gallery there in Mexico City, Liliput Gallery, where she shows mostly photography, and we exchanged emails should we ever visit each other’s respective cities.
There are no parameters for conversation—if needed, there will be a translator. Precisely what you speak about or what you share is entirely up to the whims of candid interest. The genuine and memorable conjured connection recalls the sense of mystery about faraway lives.
I recently reached out to Rebeca to learn of her retrospective thoughts on Shared Studios. She said, “Since anyone is able to join, the possibilities of connection and understanding are endless, the true core of human experience: sharing. We fell in love with the project and now we are doing the paperwork to bring a portal not only to our gallery but to our city.” She added, “My parter in crime [Alien Architect] wanted to share with you his experience in the golden Portal.”
Alien Architect is a Philadelphian multi‐disciplinary artist living in Mexico. During his sessions with Shared Studios at the Laboratorio de Arte, he performed lyrics alongside electronic musician and artist Tio Puc. Their ethereal accompaniments filled the portal in Mexico City and were transmitted all the way to Miami.
“It was intimate and surreal to see humans on the other side of the projection screen interacting and dancing… as we waved to each other. It felt as though we were in the same room, like a metaphysical and futuristic merging of people through art. We saw so much talent and amazement between fellow artists and random people on both sides of the screen, pixelated and pieced back together all the way from Art Basel Miami over to us in the NOW! How cosmic and fantastico it was!”
These audio‐visual vessels can be accessed around the world—in Afghanistan, Cuba, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, and even the Zaatari Camp for Syrian Refugees—to host a spontaneous, pure video conversation between strangers from vast global contexts. As the boundaries of global anonymity are blurred, you come face‐to‐face, virtually, with another character in a space that is open, honest, and shared.