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Eleanor Young

Krzystof Wodiczko is professor of art, design and the public domain at the Graduate School of Design in Harvard. But, more than that, he is an artist of the city, writes Eleanor Young.

He has always been political: back in 1985 he illicitly projected a swastika on the portico of the South Africa House in Trafalgar Square. Now he is back in the UK.

His current exhibition at Work in London shows his most recent set of projects around war. The words of veterans make for moving testimony to its destruction and distress, part therapy Wodiczko explains, even as a public display. He uses projections of the words with the real sound track of the interviews interspersed with explosions. In Liverpool in 2008 he used an old Polish armoured vehicle to mount the projector as it aimed at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral. In the more intimate space of the gallery veterans are recorded speaking onto a flame which wavers with their exhalations and emotion. ‘I don’t congratulate myself when I see someone watching and crying. I would rather they were angry and do something,’ says Wodiczko.

Wodiczko’s long term scheme is to encase the Arc de Triomphe and make it home for the World Institute for the Abolition of War. He describes his idea as a ‘radical supplement’ to the Arc – a giant scaffolding with ramps, lifts and mechanical walkways that allows views through and circulation to allow research into this monument to aggression. It sounds like a student project but this is a man who has taken over the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima with projections of hands of the victims of the bomb on the anniversary; so don’t underestimate him.

See The Abolition of War to 14th January at the Work Gallery, 10A Acton Street, London WC1X 9NG,