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 Central Library Projection, 2004, St. Louis, Missouri
• 1301 Olive Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63103
• Run Dates: April 16–18, 2004
This projection activated St. Louis’s main public library and explored the consequences of violence and the therapeutic potential of public discourse, since this projection included both the victims and the perpetrators of violence as participants. This project was originally conceived and developed to take place on the facade of the historic Old Courthouse building, a federal and state courthouse that is listed in the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad “Network to Freedom.” However, a week before Wodiczko’s original projection was to take place, the federal government withdrew its permission, and the project had to shift to a new site and timeline.
The final site became The Central Library, built in 1912 with the help of a large donation from Andrew Carnegie. Its facade consists of a series of arches, forming an arcade. The live event featured confessions of six St. Louis residents who had lost their loved ones to violence, and of inmates serving sentences at the Potosi Correctional Center prison. Their highly moving testimonies, played over loudspeakers, were accompanied by images of gesticulating hands, projected on the library building’s neo-renaissance facade, seemingly emerging from inside the building and enlivened by the gestures of people speaking publicly about their traumatic experiences. During the projection, pre-recorded testimonies were mixed with live comments, creating a call and response format—a new experience for Wodiczko’s public projections. Some of the participants spoke from a studio inside the library, and members of the audience were able to use a microphone installed outside.
This public projection accompanied the international symposium Critical Praxis for the Emerging Culture: A Collaborative Investigation into the Nature of Cultural Transformation Brought About by Technology and Media, organized by the School of Architecture and the School of Art of Washington University in St. Louis. Overall project coordination was overseen by Bob Hansman.