Barbara Kruger-Designed MetroCards Are Coming to New York City

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Limited-edition MetroCards designed by Barbara Kruger will be randomly distributed to vending machines in four subway stations. Credit Job Piston courtesy Performa

Barbara Kruger’s bold lettering has adorned buses, warehouses, magazine covers, albums and train stations. Her next medium? MetroCards.

Starting Wednesday, the M.T.A. will release 50,000 limited-edition MetroCards with Ms. Kruger’s pointed questions emblazoned on the back. The cards will be available at four stations around the city and will arrive in conjunction with a series of site-specific works Ms. Kruger is creating for the Performa Biennial.

The two sets of cards each contain questions that Ms. Kruger has asked in artwork throughout her career. “Who is healed? Who is housed? Who is silent? Who speaks?” is similar to part of a 1991 work, “Untitled (Questions).” “Whose values?” was printed on a Newsweek cover in 1992, as a response to Dan Quayle’s emphasis on family values during his vice-presidential campaign. “These issues of power and control and physical damage and death and predation are ages old,” Ms. Kruger said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I wish some of these issues would become archaic.”

Ms. Kruger splits time between Los Angeles and New York, and she said she was excited by the interactive potential of this project: “I take the subway six times a day when I’m in the city,” she said. “The level of dispersal and distribution of meaning is huge.” Her artwork will adorn the LES Skatepark under the Manhattan Bridge, as well as a billboard at 17th Street and 10th Avenue and a school bus.

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