As Trump marks his first 100 days in office, Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale continues to attract a wealth of new readers and fans, many of whom draw parallels between the 1985 book's totalitarian theocracy, Gilead, and today's political climate.
Now it's enjoying another boost with the launch of Hulu's television adaptation of the dystopian classic, starring Joseph Fiennes and Elisabeth Moss. To celebrate the series, Pentagram's Paul Scher, Abbott Miller and their teams have designed a new interactive public art installation for New York's High Line, in collaboration with the Civic Entertainment Group.
The 40 feet long by 12 feet high wall is arranged in an accordion fold of panels that feature the faceless silhouette of Offred, the story’s lead character, played by Moss in the series. The display houses thousands of paperback copies of the book that passersby can take down to reveal powerful messages of resistance from the novel. These include “Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum” (Translation: Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down), a battle cry of survival that the designers also used as a title for the installation.
In their artists’ statement, Scher and Miller write: "The Handmaid’s Tale provides a chilling reminder of how easily the darkest currents of repression can re-surface. The installation we designed shows how these dark messages are often accompanied by bombastic language and imagery: spectacle becomes a form of persuasion. Cracks in the floorboards reveal empowering texts, glimpses of resistance for an uncertain age."
On view until 30 April, and situated on Chelsea Market Passage at 16th St., with limited free copies of The Handmaid's Tale available.