Krzysztof Wodiczko: Public Projection on Conflict
“Finally, I found myself back at the Guildhall, and it was here that I saw my favourite work, or at least the one that punched me the hardest in the solar plexus: Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Public Projection – Derry-Londonderry. The Polish artist had recorded ordinary people from both sides talking about the Troubles, interviews that he was now projecting on the side of the Guildhall. The projector was housed in an ambulance, a vehicle strongly associated with the bad years, so that these confessions and eyewitness accounts could be screened anywhere, at any time. I was struck by how few local people had stopped to look and listen, but I was transfixed. Impossible to walk away from these stories of bullets and bombs, of neighbours at war, of terrible poverty, of the uselessness of politicians. Occasionally, Wodiczko would repeat a particular phrase, using it as punctuation, even as syncopation, and as the evening wore on, it was these words that stuck with me: more powerful than electricity, far brighter than any neon.”
Public Projection for Derry~Londonderry is a new commission for Lumiere by renowned Polish artist, Krzysztof Wodiczko.
The artist, who is based at Harvard University in the US, talked to a citywide cross-section of people to record their stories, which reflect on past conflict and shared hopes for the future.
Those interviewed include serving and ex-police officers, those accused of offences from both sides of the political divide, victims of the Troubles, and young people, growing up in the aftermath of the conflict.
Their voices will be broadcast from a converted ambulance and their words projected onto buildings in several locations, as the vehicle moves around the city.
‘Public space is only possible if it is a shared space, where different or contested positions and points of view about the past, present and future can be non-violently expressed,’ says Wodiczko.
‘I hope that projects like this one might contribute to the process of making the kind of democratic public space that is needed in all cities, but especially in Derry~Londonderry as a part of the ongoing peace process.’
Krzysztof Wodiczko, born 1943, is an artist renowned for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments. He has realised more than 80 such public projections in Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.
He lives and works in New York City and teaches in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he is currently Professor in Residence of Art and the Public Domain for the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 1998, he was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize for his contribution as an artist to world peace.
Process of development
Wodiczko spent time in the city working with a wide range of individual participants, who recorded their testimonies in one-to-one sessions with the artist at the Verbal Arts Centre.
The full recordings were curated and edited into short phrases that will be adapted for projection on to city walls and buildings. We looked after the editing, script review, and all elements of implementation of projection for the project
The 24 participants for the project were sought through a range of local organisations to represent the diverse communities in the city. The list of groups has been developed with feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including Derry City Council, Verbal Arts Centre, Culture Company, the PSNI, RUC George Cross Foundation, Tar Abhaile, EPIC and reconciliation organisations including Peace and Reconciliation and Towards Understanding and Healing.
During the consultation period, all the participants were involved in discussions about the presentation of the work. We discussed the nature of the projection, the kind of vehicle to be used, the symbolism of the vehicle and the route around the city, and guaranteed their anonymity if desired. All decisions that are being made about the work respect the views of those who took part in the project. All stakeholders have also been invited to discuss any sensitivities arising from the use of the vehicle for the project.
All participants’ contributions remain entirely confidential.