Earlier this month, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) gave a preview of what to expect at the John Hejduk exhibition, now showing at The Cooper Union. Seven works from the New York-born architect are on display inside with his memorial to Jan Palach exhibited outside in Cooper Square Park.
First constructed in Atlanta by Georgia Tech students and alumni under the supervision of Professor James Williamson in 1990, the memorial traveled to Prague the following year. Twenty-five years later, it was realized again in Prague as a permanent installation adjacent to Jan Palach square, being built as an entirely new construction in stainless steel and Corten steel. Now the design has been erected in Cooper Square (a time-lapse can be viewed below). The gravitas of Hejduk’s work is still relevant today.
“This is a work that honors an ultimate sacrifice in the face of extraordinary oppression as well as the apathy that can often accompany it,” Williamson told AN. “And we don’t have to look as far as the Ukraine or Syria for its topicality; we can simply turn on the latest evening news to watch oppression unfold.”
“My father was incredibly dedicated to human rights and the social contract,” said Renata Hejduk, John’s daughter, speaking to AN. “The pieces stand as representations that speak to injustice everywhere and anywhere and the power of the human will and the fight for freedom and tolerance.”
Tehrani meanwhile, added that “it was important to undertake the opportunity to exhibit the memorial “if only to help historicize John Hejduk from a perspective that we can now appreciate with critical eyes. The Cooper Union has not had that opportunity to date, and this can become a moment to bring key intellectuals, collaborators, and alumni to voice some of their thoughts as they look back on this legacy.”