Interrogative Design: Selected Works of Krzysztof Wodiczko – The Abraham Lincoln Monument Projection
For the duration of the Interrogative Design exhibition, we will be providing expanded online content to give viewers a deeper access to selected projects. Materials for this exhibit provided by the artist, with unique edits specially produced for this project by GSD Exhibitions.
The Abraham Lincoln Monument Projection, “War Veteran Project”, 2012, New York
• Union Square Park, New York, New York
• Broadway To 4th Avenue, East 14th St. To East 17th St.
• Run Dates: November 8–December 9, 2012
One of three sculptures of Abraham Lincoln in New York City’s parks, the Union Square Park monument stands prominently towards the northern end of the park, surrounded by trees. The square has been a gathering point for social and political activism, from Labor Day celebrations in the 1880s to, more recently, Black Lives Matter demonstrations. It is within this context that, on Veterans Day in 2012, Wodiczko carried out a projection in Union Square Park that shared the voices and images of veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, projected on the statue of Abraham Lincoln, United States president and veteran of the deadliest war in U.S. history.
Wodiczko engaged with dozens of New York veterans and their families to explore their experiences of the recent American wars. The final projection consisted of fourteen veterans whose movements and voices animated the statue of Lincoln with contemporary stories of war, trauma, loss, guilt, and the challenges of returning to civilian life. Through their participation, these con-temporary veterans inscribed themselves on the symbolic status of Lincoln, as the statue lent them its moral authority to speak of their shared experiences in public space. Updated in its symbolism, the Lincoln statue had been a silent witness to numerous protests against the Iraq War staged in Union Square. This projection, which ran continuously for over a month, transformed the immobile statue with the gestures and voices of the veterans and made this project a part of the public debate on war, the fate of veterans, and the consequences of continuous armed conflicts; not only is the statue trans-formed, but the contemporary veterans became living monuments to their own trauma.
Organized by Galerie Lelong and More Art, the Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection would like to publicly acknowledge the veteran participants: Joan Aiken, Lyndsey Anderson, Joseph Avellanet, Roman Baca, Walter Baldaccini, Carl Cannon, Luis Crossman, Marie Delus, Trent Love, Nelson Lowhim, Blake Ruehrwein, Sarmiento, Carlos Tarraza, and Carlos Zambrano. Additionally, the following veterans organizations collaborated on this project: Coalition for the Homeless, Cornell University Program for Anxiety and Trauma Stress Studies, CUNY Office of Veterans Affairs, Educated Canine Assistance Dog Program (ECAD), Emotional Freedom Technique–Jondi Whitis, HonorVet.org, Hope for the Warriors, Housing and Services Inc., Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Intersections International, North Shore LIJ–Ways to Give Foundation, Phoenix House of New York, Inc., Services for the UnderServed, Inc., Shining Services Worldwide, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), United War Veterans Council Inc. (UWVC), Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC, Warrior Writers, and the Wounded Warrior Project.