Since it launched in the 1990s, the MetroCard has occasionally served as a miniature billboard, with companies paying the MTA for the privilege of adding their branding to the transit passes.
In the past year alone, the MTA has partnered with iconic streetwear brand Supreme, as well and Showtime for the premiere of the Twin Peaks sequel, to create these custom, limited-edition MetroCards. The Supreme ones proved especially popular, causing hypebeasts to line up at subway stations to snag one of the passes—or pay as much as $1,000 on eBay for one.
Now, the latest of these MetroCard partnerships is one that may appeal to art fanatics: As part of Performa 17, the arts biennial that will take place from November 1 to 17, conceptual artist Barbara Kruger will design a special one-off MetroCard, emblazoned with thought-provoking questions like “Whose justice?,” “Who is housed?,” “Who is silent?,” and “Whose fears?”
“These issues of power and control and physical damage and death and predation are ages old,” the artist told the New York Times in an interview. “I wish some of these issues would become archaic.”
Kruger has designed two separate cards, 50,000 of which will be available at vending machines in four different stations: Queensboro Plaza, Broadway-Lafayette Street, East Broadway, and 116th Street on the B and C lines. They’re part of her larger branding work for Performa 17, which includes a billboard in Chelsea and an installation at the skate park beneath the Manhattan Bridge.
It remains to be seen if these MetroCards will create a similar frenzy as the Supreme ones—ironic, considering that the streetwear brand is clearly inspired by Kruger’s work (some might say ripped off), going so far as to use the same font (Futura) and the same white text on red background that’s been a hallmark of her pieces for decades.