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“During the time of torture, the bag was on my head. After I was injured, they took me to another room and told me to say that I had fallen down and no one beat me.”
—Excerpt from Jenny Holzer’s Redaction Paintings
Jenny Holzer is best known for her innovative use of text to publicly display thought provoking anecdotes both in public spaces, via an extremely powerful projector, or within institutional settings. Holzer speaks with poet Henri Cole in her Hoosick Falls, New York studio, describing the advantages of creating collaboratively.
Redaction Paintings, a series in which Holzer creates artworks from formerly classified government documents, combines the physical qualities of abstract expressionist color blocks with the conceptual intrigue of systematic war and conquest. Holzer explores the insidiousness of these documents through her series, often enlarging them to better emphasize the readability of the text, or to more prominently address the tragic irony of the opaquely skewed portions of the archive.More information and credits
Producer: Susan Sollins & Nick Ravich. Camera: Mead Hunt & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Roger Phenix. Editor: Lizzie Donahue. Artwork courtesy: Jenny Holzer. Thanks: Henri Cole and Cheim & Read, New York.
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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.
“I’ve spent a fair amount of time alone on my work, and so it’s with real joy that I go to other people to make something larger than I could have done solo.”
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