Jenny Holzer at DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal
For Chicago, 2007
For more than thirty years, Jenny Holzer's work has paired text and installation to examine personal and social realities. In this exhibition, which centers on her work from the mid-1990s to the present, Holzer fuses political comment with formal beauty. Using language as her principal medium – either printed on posters and T-shirts or scrolling on LED (light-emitting-diode) displays – Jenny Holzer's text-based art provides a range of opinions and voices while addressing the interplay between the public and the private. Appearing in both museum exhibitions and more anonymously in the public realm, her work is also presented as dematerialized and somberly majestic nighttime projections on buildings and in natural settings, including crashing ocean waves.
Part oracle and part provocateur, the viewer must sort the profound from the prattle in Jenny Holzer's texts. Her incisive and premonitory pronouncements, which are condensed, filtered or distilled from the culture at large, bear witness to social and interpersonal conflict, the body politic and the body, while relentlessly exposing the machinations of the military/commercial/entertainment complex.
Her analysis continues in the presentation at DHC/ART with recent LED works and silkscreen paintings based on declassified US documents and the US-led invasion of Iraq. Using transcripts of policy debates, as well as testimonies of American soldiers and detainees in US custody, the exhibition features Redaction paintings, which refer to documents government censors have partially or totally blacked out – redacted – because the subject matter was deemed too sensitive for public consumption.