Felix Gonzalez-Torres was a provocateur, an artist with a gift for finding his way through the thorny thickets of First World hypocrisy. He could be imperious, raucous and outrageous. But there was a tenderness, too, exemplified by large-scale conceptual works like “Untitled (For Jeff),” a monumental photographic image that will begin appearing on billboards around town next week and will be part of our landscape through Jan. 29. This project is being sponsored by the Indianapolis Museum of Art with support from Public Art Indianapolis, a program of the Arts Council.
Between Nov. 14-20, Gonzalez-Torres’ work will appear on the facades of the IMA, the Artsgarden, the Eiteljorg Museum, Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis Art Center and iMOCA. It will also be installed on billboards in Broad Ripple, Nora, Irvington, Speedway, by the State Fairgrounds and off I-65, as well as on six other Clear Channel billboards still to be determined.
The image shows an open hand. As it happens, this is the hand of the caregiver who looked after Gonzales-Torres’ friend, Jeff, as he was dying from AIDS. Gonzales-Torres also died from AIDS-related complications in 1996. The image is on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.