After a February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. announced that it would be rescheduling the projection of Polish artist Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 scheduled to take place on February 14 and 15. The 30-foot-tall, 68-foot-wide piece would have been projected across the museum’s curved façade, and features a hand holding a gun on one side, and a hand holding a lit vigil candle on the other.
Wodiczko’s site-specific work was originally displayed at the museum in 1988 from October 25 to 27, and touched on the death penalty, reproductive rights and the media’s role in providing partisan voices for both sides of these issues. The installation’s return on February 14 and 15 would have coincided with the launch of Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, a retrospective examining the intersection of the art world and marketing in the ‘80s, and the launch of the newly revamped lobby. After postponing the projection, the museum has rescheduled the projection’s run for Wednesday, March 7, through Friday, March 9, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The museum will remain open until 9:30 p.m. on those nights as well.
In announcing the postponement, Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu said in a statement,“Now is a time for mourning and reflection, and out of sensitivity to our community in D.C. and beyond, the Hirshhorn, Smithsonian leadership and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko have made the decision to postpone the artist’s projection, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. 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.”
Gun control advocates took to Twitter after the postponement was announced to express their disappointment, with many of them stating that Wodiczko’s work has only been made more poignant and urgent in the wake of another mass shooting.
I understand the @hirshhorn is squeamish about projecting a gun image on its wall right now. But this is PRECISELY the right time to do it. We can’t live forever in these cycles of shock, grief, acceptance and complacency. https://t.co/AUJxvCdOlt
— Philip Kennicott (@PhilipKennicott) February 15, 2018
Isn’t the sad point that it would be very hard to find ANY time in a three-month period that was not in close proximity to a shooting? It would seem to me that now is a perfect time to show this work. https://t.co/IEtuWULUPc
— Daniel Sherman (@djshistorian) February 16, 2018
The decision to postpone the showing was made in agreement with Wodiczko, although a taped version of the piece was available in the lobby for that time instead.