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Closing Time

Flashing, mooning and homegrown potatoes: The bad behaviour that (temporarily) shut The Portal

The installation has temporarily been suspended after opening last week.

ONE WEEK AFTER being unveiled, The Portal to New York on Dublin’s North Earl Street has been temporarily been shut down again, following what’s been described as “inappropriate behaviour”, including incidents documented on social media.

Described as “groundbreaking public technology sculptures” the connected portals are intended to form “an unprecedented visual bridge between these two iconic cities” with a 24/7 livestream.

The installation began life in Dublin relatively peacefully, playing host to long distance games of rock paper scissors, but has since been embroiled in controversy. 

On Monday, Dublin City Council (DCC) said it would temporarily close The Portal and implement a number of “technical solutions” to combat reports of bad behaviour by those using it.

It was opened again yesterday morning but last night the local authority said that its efforts to blur elements of the live feed were “unsatisfactory”, and that it would be suspended again until a better solution could be found.

It follows reports of numerous incidents across the past week, including a man on the Dublin side pulling down his trousers and mooning New Yorkers on the other side. 

Media in New York reported on several incidents occurring on the Dublin side, including the holding up of a swastika and an image of New York’s Twin Towers burning.

On the day of its unveiling, a woman in her forties was arrested after she was seen grinding against the art installation. Videos circulating on social media also showed Dubliners holding up phones with pornographic material and swear words displayed. 

The Journal / YouTube

New York state of mind 

The bad behaviour hasn’t been restricted to Dublin.

In New York, OnlyFans model Ava Louise exposed her bare chest to a crowd of Dubliners – later saying: “I thought the people of Dublin deserved to see my two New York homegrown potatoes.”

“Everyone on the New York side really loved it, everyone on the Dublin side were pulling out their phones and filming it. Everyone had a smile on their face, they seemed to be really enjoying it,” she told The Irish Sun afterwards.

The fun hasn’t been embraced by The Portal’s founder, however. Lithuanian artist Benediktas Gylys, who is behind the project, appealed to the public to allow the Portal to remain suitable for younger people.

Speaking in New York, Gylys told RTÉ: “Definitely it’s about us humans creating the artwork together, but we need to make sure that it’s also family friendly.

“I think everyone should think of a seven-year-old child that is in New York that wants to experience and that wants to connect to Dublin and wave to people there,” he said.

Minister for Public Expenditure and local TD Paschal Donohoe condemned those responsible for the inappropriate behaviour. “I feel that the very small number of people who have been involved in inappropriate behaviour have let us all down,” he said.

“I hope the small number of people that are letting the rest of us down with that behaviour realise the impact it is having and that we can look at ways from a technology perspective that that kind of behaviour is diminished.”

In New York, security guards from private firms have been working at the site of the installation since its launch last week. 

In a statement on Monday, founding company Portals.org urged participants to be respectful. 

“Our goal is to open a window between far away places and cultures that allows people to interact freely with one another. We encourage people to be respectful and from our position as observers, we see that the absolute majority of experiences is on the bright side.”

Dublin City Council have said that they expect the portal to be switched back on later this week, with the installation set to run until the autumn. 

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