- May 27–June 25, 2017
- MASS MoCA
For North Adams, 2017
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
Saturday, May 27 – Sunday, June 25
Wednesdays through Sundays, from dusk until 11pm
Text rises out of the surface of the Hoosic River or materializes on blades of grass before scrolling slowly over industrial pane glass windows and brick. The beauty of the projected words meets their content with a jolt, their clean, sharp forms spelling out descriptions of bullets puncturing flesh, homes torn asunder by bombs, and the voice of a father, calling out for a child uprooted “from the soil that embraces his bones.”
In For North Adams, a new projection by Jenny Holzer, the artist explores war’s devastating humanitarian legacy and today’s unfolding international refugee crisis with vivid eyewitness accounts. Holzer projects a collection of texts onto five sections of MASS MoCA’s north façade, including works from contemporary international poets from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Ethiopia; over 60 poems by Anna Świrszczyńska (Swir) from her epic cycle, Building the Barricade, a day-to-day account of The Warsaw Uprising, where she was a nurse working with the Polish resistance during the Nazi siege of the city in 1944; interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch with peaceful political protesters arrested, detained and tortured by the Assad regime shortly before the country’s civil conflict began; and case studies of Syrian families compiled by Save the Children in their work assisting refugees in camps in Jordan.
These texts afford glimpses into daily life during wartime. Moments of violence, tenderness, and yearning coexist, confronting viewers with the very human implications of conflict.
The premiere of For North Adams coincided with the opening of MASS MoCA’s expansion, which includes an installation of works by Holzer.
Adults may want to preview this work before viewing it with children.
Projection: DANGERS Inc; Daniel Angers; Gilles Gingras; Mitch Jameison
Building The Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska, translated by Piotr Florczyk. Translation ©2016. Published by Tavern Books. Used by permission of Ludmilla Adamska-Orłowska and the translator.
Special thanks to Save the Children and Human Rights Watch. More information can be found at savethechildren.org and hrw.org.
Additional thanks to Juliana Engberg and Fonden Aarhus. Selected poems and stories in For North Adams were first projected by Holzer in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, as part of For Aarhus (2017).
Jenny Holzer, For North Adams, 2017
Text: “A Child Is Scared,” from Building The Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska, translated by Piotr Florczyk. Translation copyright © 2016. Published by Tavern Books. Used by permission of Ludmilla Adamska-Orłowska and the translator.
© 2017 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
photo: Ash Ferlito / Jake Forney