Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jenny Holzer

Even though I have already posted for Ada Lovelace Day, an exchange I had with a colleague earlier today led me to want to post about someone else. I accidentally printed the entirety of a lengthy PowerPoint presentation. After the pages I actually needed printed, I canceled the print job and went to my meeting. When I got back there was a stack of messed up printouts from the failure of the print job to, well, fail gracefully. There were pages of random letters in random length rows. A colleague saw me staring at one of the pages and exclaimed "text art!" I immediately thought of Jenny Holzer.

Jenny Holzer is famous for her text-based art featuring short statements, or "truisms." Some are well known cliches while others are random phrases or slogans or exerpted phrases from larger texts or documents. Her work explores the use of words and ideas in public spaces. She works in a variety of media, including large scale xenon projections, LED signs, the Internet, plaques, benches, stickers, T-shirts, and street posters. I cannot begin to describe how mesmerizing her work is, whether a large-scale projection or an immersive gallery space. For over thirty years she has joined ideology with space through text using technology. I just found out that she is on twitter.

I cannot remember where I first encountered her work. It may have been at SFMoMA. It may have been at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts (one of my absolute favorite museums that not enough people know about). Or it might have been at Mass MoCA. I very much want to see the exhibition of her work at the Whitney, on display through May 31, 2009. There's a detailed review in the New York Times.

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