Union Square’s Lincoln Statue Will Tell Iraq Veterans’ Stories on Veteran’s Day

The Great Emancipator has been taking on some uncharacteristic roles as he approaches the sesquicentennial of his death; first Abraham Lincoln took up vampire hunting, and soon he’ll be reciting the war stories of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in New York’s Union Square. “Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection,” a new public art project by Krzysztof Wodiczko that will run for ten days beginning on Veteran’s Day, November 9, 2012, will have the historic statue telling the stories of some 30 American veterans who have served in the U.S.’s two ongoing overseas wars and their families.

The voices and gestures of the interviewees will be projected onto the statue, bringing it to life for a project co-produced by Galerie Lelong, which represents Wodiczko, and the public art non-profit More Art. “As our troops withdraw from Afghanistan, this commemorative statue, commissioned just a few years after the Civil War, again becomes a place for dialogue about war,” Micaela Martegani, More Art’s founding director, said in a statement.

This will be Wodiczko’s second time working with the Union Square Lincoln statue; in 1986 he proposed and tested a piece called “Homeless Projection: A Proposal for Union Square,” which was eventually shown in a gallery context, and involved projecting images of objects associated with homelessness onto Union Square’s statues. The Polish-American artist, best known for his emotionally charged large-scale outdoor projections on building façades and monuments, will work on a markedly more human scale for “Abraham Lincoln,” which runs November 9-19.

— Benjamin Sutton