Krzysztof Wodiczko’s The St. Louis Projection, a poignant and provocative community art project about the shattering effects of violence and the healing power of public discourse, will be broadcast onto the St. Louis Public Library, 1301 Olive St., from 9 to 11 p.m., April 16, 17 and 18.
The piece consists of audio testimony by a half-dozen St. Louis residents who have lost loved ones, inter-cut with the remorseful stories of prisoners now serving time for such acts at the Missouri State Correctional Facility in Potosi. Accompanying each speaker’s voice are video taped images of their hands, which will be projected onto the library’s southern facade.
The effect is strikingly anthropomorphic, as if the library itself were speaking to the city. At the same time, though the stories told are often heartrending, the process of telling them is, for both participants and the community, profoundly healing. Those who have lost loved ones are able to voice their grief in a powerful yet constructive public forum, while those who have committed violence are able to express regret and warn of the costs they have paid for their actions.
“The St. Louis Public Library is a beautiful and historic building,” Wodiczko said. “It is filled with many different voices, and has a strong, monumental presence. It is a good place at which to discuss these themes of loss and healing and justice.” Wodiczko points out that the library’s inscription reads, in part, “Recorded thought is our chief heritage from the past, the most lasting legacy we can leave to the future.”
WHO: Projection artist Krzysztof Wodiczko
WHAT: Public art project, The St. Louis Projection
WHEN: 9 to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 16, 17 and 18
WHERE: St. Louis Public Library, 1301 Olive St.
COST: Free and open to the public
ORGANIZERS: Schools of Architecture and Art, Washington University in St. Louis
INFORMATION: (314) 935-6200
Created in collaboration with faculty and students from the Schools of Architecture and Art at Washington University in St. Louis, The St. Louis Projection is one of several events surrounding the April 14 groundbreaking of the university’s Sam Fox Arts Center.
Wodiczko, director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has realized slide and video projections on more than 70 historic monuments and architectural facades in more than a dozen countries. These include the Bunker Hill Memorial in Boston; the Martin Luther Church in Kassel, Germany; and the Bundeshaus (Capitol) in Bern, Switzerland, among many others. In 1999, Wodiczko received the Hiroshima Prize, awarded every three years by the City of Hiroshima, Japan, to an artist whose work has contributed to world peace.
Interviews for The St. Louis Projection were coordinated by Bob Hansman, associate professor of architecture at Washington University and founder of City Faces, a nationally renowned art program for youth living in public housing. Sung Ho Kim, assistant professor of architecture, and Adam Whiton, a research specialist with MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, are designing special equipment to facilitate filming of the hands. Alison Bates, a master of fine arts candidate in photography, serves as project coordinator. Multimedia artist and filmmaker Zlatko Cosic and alumnus Brett Murphy (BFA 2003) also assist, with technical support and expertise provided by The Spark Agency.
The St. Louis Public Library was designed by the firm of Cass Gilbert, a New York architect chosen in a national competition. Construction of the beaux-arts, Italian Renaissance-style structure began in 1909 and was completed in 1912. Materials came from across the country: outer walls are faced with Maine granite, while Tennessee marble and quarter-sawn oak adorn the interior. The stained-glass windows above the main staircases were produced by Gorham and Company of New York. Today, the library houses millions of books, journals, recordings, photographs and other items, including rare collections.
The St. Louis Projection is a featured event of Critical Praxis for the Emerging Culture, an international symposium examining the social and cultural impact of new media and technology, April 16 and 17. In addition, Wodiczko will speak for the School of Architecture’s Monday Night Lecture Series at 6 p.m. April 19.
Both The St. Louis Projection and Critical Praxis are organized by the Washington University School of Architecture and School of Art, and is co-sponsored by the university’s Sam Fox Arts Center, School of Law, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and Department of Computer Science & Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, as well as the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Additional support is provided by The Spark Agency, Chicago’s Graham Foundation for Advancement in Fine Arts and the university’s Sesquicentennial Grants.