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After Florida Shooting, Hirshhorn Museum Calls Off Art Projection Featuring Giant Gun [UPDATED]

The projection, by artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Krzysztof Wodiczko, “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988” (1988) (courtesy Gallery Galerie Lelong & Co.)

On Tuesday, two giant hands holding a gun and a candle between microphones were projected onto the exterior of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Krzysztof Wodiczko’s “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988” projection was supposed to last for three nights, but after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida left at least 17 people dead on Wednesday, the museum decided to cancel the remaining two nights.

“Now is a time for mourning and reflection, and out of sensitivity to our community in DC and beyond, the Hirshhorn, Smithsonian leadership and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko have made the decision to postpone the artist’s projection, ‘Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC’,” Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu said in a statement sent to Hyperallergic. “We remain committed to exhibiting this important work, which is still relevant today — 30 years following its original showing. We look forward to restaging the work in its original format at a later date.”

The statement adds that footage of the projection will still appear in the museum’s lobby. Coinciding with the opening of the Hirshhorn’s exhibition, Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980sWodiczko’s site-specific projection was shown earlier this week for the first time since it first premiered at the museum almost 30 years ago.

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

Taking on issues of political rhetoric, the death penalty, reproductive rights, and the power of mass media, “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988” originally appeared wrapped around the museum’s circular building for three nights in October 1988. It was then part of the Hirshhorn’s “WORKS” program, which hosted site-specific projects on the museum grounds from 1987 to 1993, including works by Sol LeWitt, Ann Hamilton, Matt Mullican, and Alfredo Jaar.

The Hirshhorn’s statement regarding Wodiczko’s projection is included in full below.

Out of respect for the victims and families of Wednesday’s shooting in Florida, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko have postponed his projection on the exterior of the building, to be presented at a later date within the run of the exhibition Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s. The museum staff grieves alongside the rest of the country during this time of tragedy.

“Now is a time for mourning and reflection, and out of sensitivity to our community in DC and beyond, the Hirshhorn, Smithsonian leadership and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko have made the decision to postpone the artist’s projection, ‘Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC’,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “We remain committed to exhibiting this important work, which is still relevant today—30 years following its original showing. We look forward to restaging the work in its original format at a later date.”

The decision to postpone was reached in close collaboration with the artist. “To me, the silence feels most respectful. In this case, not showing the projection shows respect and sensitivity to the people who suffer from this great tragedy,” Wodiczko said.

Starting Feb. 15, footage of the projection will be on view in the Museum’s lobby as part of the exhibition Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, joining Wodiczko’s functional sculpture “Homeless Vehicle” from the same period.

The projection was initially planned for the evenings of February 13, 14, and 15, in conjunction with the opening of Brand New. It was projected February 13, and a future date for additional evenings will be announced shortly. Brand New closes May 13.

Update, 2/27/2018: The Hirshhorn Museum has announced the new dates for the postponed projection of Krzysztof Wodiczko’s “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988.” It will now be shown on the museum’s exterior from Wednesday, March 7, through Friday, March 9, between 7 pm and 9:30 pm.

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