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Hirshhorn Postpones Krzysztof Wodiczko Projection after Florida School Shooting

In the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left seventeen people dead, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, announced yesterday that it has decided not to restage a monumental projection by Krzysztof Wodiczko, featuring two hands holding a gun and a candle on either side of a row of microphones, at this time.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and families of today’s tragedy in Florida,” the museum wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Out of respect for those affected, and in sensitivity to our public, the Hirshhorn and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko will no longer be projecting his artwork on the exterior of the building Feb. 14-15.”

“To me, the silence feels most respectful,” Wodiczko said in a statement. “In this case, not showing the projection shows respect and sensitivity to the people who suffer from this great tragedy.” 

The work’s debut was meant to coincide with the opening of “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s,” a new exhibition exploring the collision of art and marketing in the 1980s. The museum had commissioned Wodiczko’s three-story and sixty-eight-foot piece for its “WORKS” program, which ran from 1987 to 1993 and featured a series of temporary, site-specific exhibitions by artists such as Sol LeWitt, Ann Hamilton, Matt Mullican, and Alfredo Jaar that were installed throughout the museum’s grounds and plaza.

Commenting on the piece, which references the death penalty and reproductive rights—issues that were at the forefront of the 1988 presidential election—Wodiczko said: “The thirty-year-old projection appears to me today strangely familiar and at once unbearably relevant. I wrote in 1988 that, more than ever before, the meaning of our monuments depends on our active role in turning them into sites of memory and critical evaluation of history as well as places of public discourse and action. It remains vitally true.”