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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ inspires a provocative public art piece on the High Line

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Now you have no excuse not to read Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, which inspired the Hulu series

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Hulu

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopic novel The Handmaid’s Tale, about life (and revolt) in an authoritarian, theocratic United States of the future, is now the subject of an adaptation that premiered yesterday on Hulu. Starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss and Orange Is the New Black’s Samira Wiley, the seemingly all-too-timely series is, as Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff writes, not “just a show about now; it’s a show about always.”

But for those who may not be familiar with the source material—and truly, this is a case where reading the book ahead of watching the series is highly encouraged—there’s a new public art piece on the High Line that hopes to change that.

Designed by Paula Scher and Abbott Miller of the design studio Pentagram, the installation opened with 4,000 copies of The Handmaid’s Tale placed in the elevated park’s Chelsea Market Passage. The books are free to the public, and will be available until April 30.

The backdrop is a striking black-and-red display with images of handmaids, along with quotes from the book intended as “powerful messages of female empowerment and anti-authoritarian resistance.” The book’s most famous rallying cry—“nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” or “don’t let the bastards grind you down”—is among them, of course.

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Hulu

“The installation we designed shows how these dark messages are often accompanied by bombastic language and imagery: spectacle becomes a form of persuasion,” said Scher and Miller in a statement. “Cracks in the floorboards reveal empowering texts, glimpses of resistance for an uncertain age.”

This isn’t the only way that Hulu has been engaging with the public in the lead up to The Handmaid’s Tale: Women dressed like handmaids wandered silently around SXSW earlier this year, and that stunt has been repeated throughout New York in the lead-up to the Hulu series premiere. The first three episodes are now available for binge-watching.

The Handmaid's Train

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