The Projectionist

Krzysztof Wodiczko's art is out for all to see

Apr 14, 2004 at 4:00 am
After weeks of discussion, reconsideration, and general hand-wringing, the now-notorious St. Louis Projection by Krzysztof Wodiczko (in cooperation with Washington University) has not yet found a new home. (Call the Washington University School of Architecture at 314-935-6200 for the definite location, which was undecided at press time.) Originally designed as a projection onto the Old Courthouse downtown, the relocation of the work is -- perhaps -- the final chapter in an interesting study of civic symbolism clashing with artistic content.

Six months ago, Wodiczko conceived of a projection involving the Old Courthouse and the experience of immigrants in St. Louis. But the piece evolved, as art often does, and the focus shifted to violent crime. Images projected onto the courthouse wings were to show the hand gestures of speakers who described their experiences as perpetrators or victims of crime. For representatives of the Old Courthouse, the new version of the St. Louis Projection seemed at odds with the building's educational mandate. The decision was made to relocate the piece.

In its new location, the St. Louis Projection will lack the symbolic punch of the best works by this Polish-born artist, who is known for fashioning site-specific political projections on public monuments. At the same time, the current incarnation of the piece does seem better suited to another site. The Old Courthouse is plenty symbolic, particularly in terms of slavery's legacy and the Dred Scott trials; but implicating that history in the larger question of violent crime is a gesture that needs more serious consideration. In the end, the lesson of the St. Louis Projection will likely tell us more about the politics of public art, than the politics of crime.

Krzysztof Wodiczko's St. Louis Projection will be shown at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 15, 16 and 17), somewhere in St. Louis; it will be free and open to the public, regardless of its final destination. -- Ivy Cooper

Hair Piece

SUN 4/18 defines a hairball as "a compact mass of hair that forms in the stomach of animals as a result of licking fur." Yummy, but not an accurate explanation of the Hairball at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard, 314-726-6161, This Hairball (founded and hosted by Jeff Noble of Bouffant Daddy salon) is an elaborate variety show put on by local stylists and fashion designers that benefits St. Martha's Hall and the Kathy J. Weinman Shelter, centers that provide help for abused women. And while there'll be masses of hair at this style extravaganza, it will be creatively coifed atop performers' heads (not in anyone's stomach). Tickets cost $25 to $75 and can be purchased at the Pageant, participating salons and Cheap TRX (3211 South Grand Boulevard). -- Alison Sieloff

Czech Yourself

SAT 4/17

It's spring, your taxes are paid, baseball is being played, and you have not a care in the world. That lilt in your voice, that bounce in your ounce: That is the joy of knowing that everything is approaching perfection. What's missing? Roast duck, and perhaps the frostiest of pilsners. Put a little of each in your tummy at the annual Czech Festival at the American Czech Center (4690 Lansdowne Avenue, 314-752-8168). From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. you can purchase these tasties, along with goulash, dumplings and sauerkraut, and fresh Czech pastries while enjoying the Czech boutique, all under a sunny sky (St. Louis-style, not Czech). Admission is free, and music is provided by Button Box Accordion and Joe Polach & the Czech Express. -- Paul Friswold

The Monks' Tale

THUR 4/15

"Ten monks walk into a room" sounds like the start of a joke, but for the national coalition Students for a Free Tibet, ain't nothing funny about China's occupation of Tibet -- hence the group's sponsorship of a nationwide tour by ten monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in southern India.

At 6 p.m. the Commonspace (615 North Grand Boulevard, 314-863-3421) hosts a free lecture and discussion with the monks, kicking off their two-week stay in St. Louis (which will include upcoming events at the City Museum). Eastern-chic goods will be up for sale, furthering the group's efforts to bridge Eastern and Western cultures -- and perhaps furthering your efforts toward a kick-ass-looking apartment. -- Rose Martelli