Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s works raise questions about art’s role in society and conventional relationships between art and audience. His temporary billboard installations, in which a single image is reproduced in multiple city-wide locations, bring art into venues not normally associated with its dissemination and consumption. By making art more accessible to a wider public, Gonzalez-Torres reaches out to viewers and compels the museum to extend its reach beyond the walls of the institution.
The Hirshhorn’s Untitled (For Jeff), named after a healthcare worker who nursed the artist’s dying partner, is a simple representation of an open hand and communicates solely through the power of the visual representation. The work may suggest a range of possible associations: the extended hand of a welcome, one which offers assistance, or another that seeks alms. The final interpretation will invariably shift, influenced by the location and environment in which each billboard is sited.