Jenny Yurshansky

This work was created in the days just before Barack Obama was first elected as president. At the time there seemed to be a belief that we had come to embody all that was asked of us by Dr. Martin Luther King in his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Instead of offering King’s inspirational words, the piece empties those spaces they would normally occupy and makes visible only the punctuation marks that shaped these now famous sentences. It is the points of emphasis, exclamations, and pregnant pauses—in short King’s delivery and skill as an orator—that define the remarkable power and lasting poignancy of the speech, suggesting that the speech could have used different words, because it was King himself, who brought people together. The punctuation reminds us of the speech’s power, while the presentation reduces it to nothing more than rhetoric. The repeated absences on the nearly blank page evoke the impossibility of ever achieving what the words convey, be it for King’s generation or ours and instead we are invited to re-write and re-remember the dream.

Projection (I Have a Dream) (2008), Paper, offset print, 26.5 x 10 x variable height in.