Hulu is celebrating its new adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by giving away 4,000 copies of the famous dytopian novel as part of an interactive public art project.
The installation is actually an elaborate bookcase for Margaret Atwood’s classic, in which women are forbidden from reading, and any passerby is free to grab a copy. It popped up on the High Line’s Chelsea Passage at 16th Street on Wednesday morning to coincide with the show’s premiere, and will be on display through Sunday, April 30.
“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ provides a chilling reminder of how easily the darkest currents of repression can re-surface,” according to a statement by graphic artists Paula Scher and Abbott Miller. “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.”
As each of the 4,000 books is removed from the artwork, quotes from Atwood’s anti-authoritarian novel and others inspired by it are revealed, like “I will bear no more” and “Her story is our story.”
In the tale, a Christian fundamentalist group has overthrown the U.S. government and created a class of women called handmaids, who must bear children for prominent men because of declining birth rates from pollution and STDs.
The similarities to our current world are difficult to ignore, with the ongoing fight over health care and rolling back environmental protections. Not to mention the echoes of “spectacle becomes a form of persuasion” in electing a reality TV star with zero political experience as president.
The series, now streaming on Hulu, stars Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Joseph Fiennes and Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”), who sums up why this is the story we need right now: “The fact that many of the things in it are not made up [is what scares me most]. All of this has happened somewhere in the world — these are things humans have done or experienced somewhere. It gives it a frighteningly real aspect.”