I first saw Jenny Holzer‘s art at the Kartause Ittingen in Switzerland in the mid-90s, where she created an installation that combined human bones and running text in LEDs. The topic was ghastly – “Lustmord”, about violence against women in Bosnia – but the effect in the beautiful monastic surroundings was so peaceful that I found I could really allow myself to think about it.
She created a monument to Oscar Maria Graf at the Literaturhaus here in Munich. His language is everywhere, even on the tableware. A soup bowl reads “Hingabe, Hingabe bis ins Letzte!” (“Devotion! Devotion unto death!”) . Or how about a cup that says “Mehr Erotik, bitte!” (“More eroticism, please!”) along with a saucer reading “Mehr Sexualität, die Herrschaften!” (“More sexuality, please, ladies and gentlemen!”) This frivolity is nice but unusual for Jenny Holzer, whose work is so thoroughly political and serious.
Jenny Holzer finds it hard to research her topics and to write about them. Yet her art is completely textbased. She disappears into her art, the opposite of a diva, saying “I like to be absolutely out of view and out of earshot.” In these videos she speaks about “PROTECT PROTECT”, her most comprehensive exhibition in the United States in more than fifteen years (at the Whitney until May 31).
Watch the excellent video tour of the current exhibition by Whitney Museum curator Donna De Salvo: “Jenny Holzer’s pioneering approach to language as a carrier of content and her use of nontraditional media and public settings as vehicles for that content make her one of the most interesting and significant artists working today.”
How do you feel about her art?