A new MetroCard design by Barbara Kruger will transform the simple Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) cards into provocative art, featuring open-ended questions about power and privilege rendered in her iconic white-on-red text. The bold cards will be available on Wednesday, November 1, at four subway stations around New York City, in a limited-edition batch of 50,000, as part of Kruger’s new commission for Performa 17. The seventh edition of the performance-focused Performa Biennial kicks off that day and runs through November 19th.
Kruger has created two sets of cards emblazoned with different questions she has posed in previous works. For instance, “Who is healed? Who is housed? Who is silent? Who speaks?” draws on her 1991 work, “Untitled,” where questions are laid out to appear as the stripes of the American flag. “Whose values?” appears in her site-specific installation, “Belief+Doubt” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and also graced the cover of an issue of Newsweek in 1992.
“These issues of power and control and physical damage and death and predation are ages old,” Kruger told the New York Times. “I wish some of these issues would become archaic.” She added that she picked four stations across the city with the intent of reaching a wide range of riders: Queensboro Plaza, Broadway-Lafayette Street, East Broadway, and the 116th Street B/C station.
The subway cards are only one part of Kruger’s contribution to Performa 17, whose visual identity she designed. A billboard she created will rise in Chelsea, and banners featuring the same questions as the MetroCards will decorate the Coleman Skatepark on the Lower East Side in a collaboration with New York skate legend Steve Rodriguez. And keep an eye out for a school bus wrapped in more red, black, and white banners, which will be roaming the streets as a mobile site for community outreach.