Feb 15, 2018

The Hirshhorn Museum postponed projecting artist Krzysztof Wodiczko’s video of a gun onto its giant facade after the school shooting in Florida.

The work by Wodiczko is part of the exhibition “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s” and depicts a man holding a gun in one hand and a lit candle in the other, both images projected across the entirety of the Hirshhorn’s iconic round exterior and visible from much of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. While the artist said in a statement he supports delaying the projection—“To me, the silence feels most respectful,” he said—several art critics and cultural figures objected to the decision, saying this week’s horrific school shooting made the politically charged work more relevant and necessary. Washington Post critic Philip Kennicott wrote a column urging the museum to put the work back on view and Guillermo Mena, a lawyer and policy leader at the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, tweeted, “Don’t you think this is the time the Members of Congress need to see that projection?” The site-specific work was made in 1988, but even before Wednesday’s tragedy, Wodiczko knew that it remained relevant in 2018. “The 30-year-old projection appears to me today strangely familiar and at once unbearably relevant,” the artist wrote in the original press statement for the announcement of the piece’s re-installation. Video footage of the original installation is currently being shown in the museum lobby and the Hirshhorn will soon announce when the projection of the work will go on view.