barbara kruger metrocards now exist

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is a low-key collaboration king.

by Hannah Ongley
30 October 2017, 4:25pm

Photography Job Piston via Performa.

NYC's iconic MTA MetroCard will soon become a relic of a bygone era, and it's sure making the most of its remaining time. After collaborating with Supreme to throw morning commutes into chaos, the MTA has linked up with conceptual art legend Barbara Kruger. Starting on Wednesday, four vending machines around the city will distribute 50,000 Kruger-designed MetroCards featuring the artist's signature red and white aesthetic and assertive slogans (incidentally the inspiration for the Supreme box logo). Her MetroCards will feature two designs, one reading, "Who is healed? Who is housed? Who is silent? Who speaks?" and the other, "Whose hopes? Whose fears? Whose values? Whose justice?"

"These issues of power and control and physical damage and death and predation are ages old," Kruger said to the New York Times of the still-prescient questions she has been posing to America for decades. "I wish some of these issues would become archaic." She chose four subway vending machines — at Queensboro Plaza, Broadway-Lafayette Street, East Broadway, and the B/C station at 116th Street — to reach the most sundry mix of straphangers. "I take the subway six times a day when I'm in the city," Kruger said. "The level of dispersal and distribution of meaning is huge."

The cards were commissioned by Performa for its seventh biennial, which has tapped Kruger to create site-specific installations around NYC. They include a Lower East Side skate park and a full wrap of a classic yellow school bus — a nod to the city buses she wrapped with quotes from Malcolm X and Courtney Love in 1997. Kruger's more recent projects include a 2016 New York magazine cover depicting a scowling Donald Trump and the word "LOSER." The art didn't accurately predict the election result, but that result has certainly made Kruger's work all the more pertinent. Head to the participating MTA stations on Wednesday to pick up a piece of art history, or avoid them entirely if you like getting to work on time.

barbara kruger