Whitney on Site: New Commissions Downtown
SEPTEMBER 1–OCTOBER 17, 2010
Barbara Kruger designs the third Whitney site-specific installation at 820 Washington Street on the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets. Kruger produces a dramatic intervention that addresses the viewer with powerful and enigmatic textual statements and engages with the social history of the site. The artist has described her motivation for her installation as follows: “Because I’ve spent so many years in lower Manhattan, the streets are rife with remembrance. So I’ve tried to mark the site with a gathering of words about history, value, and the pleasures and pains of social life.” The installation uses bold text to respond to the viewer’s visual and temporal experience of the site and its surroundings. Some of the statements are drawn from Kruger’s catalog of signature phrases like “YOU BELONG HERE” and “BELIEF + DOUBT = SANITY.” Other statements respond to the neighborhood’s shifting identity and address the changing industries that have inhabited it from meatpacking to fashion to art. Texts printed on vinyl are attached to surfaces around the site and are visible from the street and the High Line. Kruger’s installation elegantly and provocatively writes itself into the activity and history of the Museum’s future building.