Sajjad Musa and Roger Ferney Cortés reject the word ‘sculpture’ when it comes to their interactive artwork modeled after the ice vending machines found in bodegas across the city.

“It’s more than a sculpture — it is really a platform for discussion,” Ferney Cortés said.

The NO I.C.E BOX uses its familiar design as an entry point to examine the harmful impacts the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has on immigrant communities.

The interactive piece was created by Ferney Cortés and Musa’s STOP 1 Studio and will stand outside of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Fort Greene in early spring 2022.

The piece, which is currently in its production phase, will include a surprise digital interactive experience inside the icebox.

Stop 1 Studio is a multidisciplinary design studio named for the NYC corner stores that end up functioning as community gathering spaces, an ethos they say seeps into their work.

A rendered image of what the NO I.C.E. BOX will look like outside MoCADA in Fort Greene. Photo: provided.

The fundraiser for the interactive sculpture has raised $20,302 on Kickstarter, from 154 donors. STOP 1 Studios plans to show the NO I.C.E. BOX at other locations after its residency at MoCADA, Ferney Cortés said.

Once the project is fully built, extra funds will be donated to Make the Road, a nonprofit providing key immigration services like legal representation in exploitation cases and literacy programs.

As part of the fundraiser, Ferney Cortés and Musa partnered with Build Black Bed-Stuy, and sold NO I.C.E. tote bags and shirts, ‘immigrant joy’ mixtapes and other purpose-driven, wearable art to share their work and benefit the cause.

Musa, who lives in Bed-Stuy and was raised in Queens, said Brooklyn was a crucial place to develop the conversation around immigrant rights.

“New York is supposed to be this diverse, liberal place, and yet we still have people saying ‘if you speak Spanish I’m calling I.C.E. on you,'” Musa said.

Musa wants his audience to understand the urgency of this problem.

“Our response to that was to use everyday, iconic objects like the ice logo and box, and to turn it into a conversation about not only I.C.E. but also the culture of xenophobia and how we deal with it in New York.”

A mini of the upcoming, full-sized art piece. Photo: provided.

As of January 2020, 81% of people detained by I.C.E are in facilities owned and/or operated by private companies, according to an April 2020 report.

Since 2017, 39 people have died in detention centers due to lack of medical attention, poor conditions and suicide according to the report.

Overall, reported hate crimes have increased from 181 by this point in 2020 to 378 this year, according to the city hate crime log.

Ferney Cortés, who is a first-generation Colombian American, feels artists have an important role when it comes to generating discussion around social issues.

“When people see the icebox on the street, we want it to be a little playful,” Ferney Cortés said. “We want that to be the entry point so that way we can engage more people and shape perception on this urgent issue.”

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Miranda Levingston

Covering everything Brooklyn. Twitter: @MLevNews

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