Memorial as activism: recent and upcoming work by Krzysztof Wodiczko

Krzysztof Wodiczko, professor in residence of art, design, and the public domain, creates memorials that evade closure on painful history. This fall his work is giving voice to forgotten, hidden and marginalized people in numerous venues throughout the U.S. and Europe.
“The New Mechilinians” joins the work of 70 other artists for the exhibition Newtopia: The State of Human Rights in Mechelen, Belgium. Wodiczko projected the eyes and voices of new immigrants and refugees of Mechelen onto the historic city hall to convey their stories of traumatic displacement and everyday lives. See footage from the project on Vimeo.
Wodiczko’s “War Veteran Vehicle Project” appears in “Ruptures: Forms of Public Address” at the Cooper 41 Gallery at Cooper Union in N.Y. through October 13. Photos and video of the War Veteran Vehicle in action on the streets of Denver and Liverpool explore politically vital issues surrounding the struggle for democracy and public space.
The artist’s early works developed in 1970s Poland are a part of “Beyond Corrupted Eye: Akumulatory 2 Gallery, 1972-1990,” a major group exhibition at the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, which runs through November 18.
Beginning November 9th, voices and gestures of veterans of the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars will animate a statue of Abraham Lincoln that has stood silently in Union Square, N.Y., since 1870, for “Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection.” For ten days spanning Veterans Day and the anniversary of the ending of the WW I, soldiers will share memories and feelings about their experiences of war and the toll of duty.
Upcoming exhibits include a projection on the Monumento a la Revolucion in Mexico City in December. In February 2013 there will be a retrospective of Wodiczko’s work on homelessness, immigration, and displacement at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague, where he will present a new collaborative project with Czech Roma communities.
The Abolition of War, published in April, is Wodiczko’s extended analytical and critical essay on the culture of war and the role of art in challenging it. The book proposes the creation of the World Institute for the Abolition of War, a symbolic and functional structure for inspiring philosophical, cultural and pedagogical engagement and encouraging the abolition of war.
The fall 2012 issue of ArchitectureBoston features an interview with Wodiczko and longtime collaborator Julian Bonder (MDesS ’96) about their project, “Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery” in Nantes, France, which traces human bondage from the 18th century to the present day. In “Memory is a Verb,” they share their views about collective trauma, the act of remembering and the possibilities for an ethical future. Wodiczko will be part of a related panel conversation with Bonder at the ArchitectureBoston Expo in November.