Author(s): Joan Simon
A comprehensive look at the American artist's famous text works. Jenny Holzer (b.1950) is one of the most significant artists to work in the public realm since the 1980s. Starting on the streets of New York with simple fly-posters, she has gone on to disseminate her truisms, slogans, memorials and poems through a variety of media. They are enunciated by an unstable register of personae, be it ad-man, stand-up comedian, torturer, victim or evangelist. The sites for her work range from T-shirts and golf balls to dazzling electronic signboards at baseball stadiums. Her work uses language to investigate the nature of ideologies as conscious and unconscious formations about identity and experience. Her complex and poetic texts can be shocking, humorous and intriguing in content. At the same time she draws on Minimalism's use of industrial materials and deploys scale, movement and light to create art of great formal power and beauty.
Interview - Joan Simon discusses with the artist her use of language and its relation to visual form; survey - David Joselit charts a chronology of Holzer's work and places it in an art historical context of both conceptual and feminist art; focus - Renata Salecl examines Holzer's Lustmord series on the atrocities committed in former Yugoslavia; artist's choice - the artist's fragmented, unexpected language is mirrored in Samuel Beckett's "Ill Seen Ill Said", which she has chosen alongside selected texts by Elias Canetti on the relation between animal husbandry and power; artist's writings - full texts from which artworks taken and project notes.