Jenny Holzer: Writing & Difficulty



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Art21 first featured artist Jenny Holzer in 2007
Watch the original & uncut 13 minute film online! (via Hulu)

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Own Season 4 Today: DVD or iTunes
Jenny Holzer is featured in the Art21 episode "Protest" along with fellow artists Alfredo Jaar, An-My Lê, and Nancy Spero. The Season 4 DVD features 4 episodes, 16 artists, and is available from PBS and Amazon.

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"Truisms" (1977-79)
One of Jenny Holzer's most well-known texts is her series of "Truisms" (1977-79):

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Declassified Government Documents
Jenny Holzer's and her studio scour declassified government documents to find source material for her latest LED light installations and silkscreened paintings:

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"Lustmord" (1993-1995)
Jenny Holzer's series "Lustmord" (1993-1995) text was made in response to the atrocities of the Bosnian War, and took on the distinctly anti-technological forms of metal bands attached to bones and ink drawings on skin. On writing the text, Holzer remarks:

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"For Chicago" (2008)
Curator Elizabeth Smith, who organized the touring exhibition "PROTECT PROTECT," describes the significance of the work "For Chicago" (2008) in Jenny Holzer's body of work:

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Watch more Jenny Holzer videos on ArtBabble!

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Exclusive Episode #047: Jenny Holzer discusses her difficult relationship to writing during the installation of the exhibition "PROTECT PROTECT" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Featured works include "Red Yellow Looming" (2004), "Lustmord" (2007), "Protect Protect deep purple" (2007), and "For Chicago" (2008), among others. The exhibition traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in March, 2009.

Whether questioning consumerist impulses, describing torture, or lamenting death and disease, Jenny Holzer’s use of language provokes a response in the viewer. While her subversive work often blends in among advertisements in public space, its arresting content violates expectations. Holzer’s texts—such as the aphorisms “abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “protect me from what I want”—have appeared on posters and condoms, and as electronic LED signs and projections of xenon light. Holzer’s recent use of text ranges from silk-screened paintings of declassified government memoranda detailing prisoner abuse, to poetry and prose in a 65-foot wide wall of light in the lobby of 7 World Trade Center, New York.

Learn more about Jenny Holzer:

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller, Nick Ravich, & Kelly Shindler. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera & Sound: George Monteleone & Alexander Stewart. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Special Thanks: MCA Chicago & Karla Loring.

At first when watching this video, it felt strange to just here this deep voice, without cutting to a face, or the usual" artist talking " shots. Once explained that she prefers to be out of view and anonymous, I really enjoyed the strange silence and absence. I don't know if it's the same in the whole version, but that would be awesome. Just a voice with shots of the work.
Very nice.

"i have no idea if i'll ever write again." then you're twitter's fake!

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00:00:16 I have no idea whether I’ll write again.

00:00:21 One reason why I left it was because I tend to write about the most ghastly subjects, so it’s not just the difficulty in having something turn out right,

00:00:30 it’s the difficulty of staying with the material long enough to complete it.

00:00:40 It’s necessary to be emotionally engaged when writing about these topics, so yes it’s exhausting at times.

00:00:57 It's difficult to do the research on what happened and what might still be happening to various detainees, but I don’t want to wine. It would be much harder to be a detainee.

00:01:18 I'll leap away from the word values. I am afraid to talk about values these days. It's usually anytime values are invoked, it’s to dismiss it or may be incarcerate somebody.

00:01:40 But I would like there to be less fear and less cruelty stand on that and I would like to think I have some plain old empathy too.

00:01:59 I am the opposite of the theater person because I would never be on stage. My work might be like theater in that I hope there is an audience.

00:02:13 There is a reason I am anonymous in my work.

00:02:17 I like to be absolutely out of view and out of ear shot.