Event: Jenny Holzer at the Whitney Museum

Event: Jenny Holzer at the Whitney Museum
Laura Feinstein
  • 13 april 2009

PSFK’s a fan of artist Jenny Holzer, who over the years has used everything from silkscreen to twitter as her medium. In one of her most popular works, Truisms, Holzer curated a series of half statements and aphorisms which she then published on street posters, telephone booths, and even a larger than life LED billboard in Times Square. LEDs, which have evolved to become major components to Holzer’s work, have a starring place in her newest exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York entitled PROTECT PROTECT. The exhibit is a series of LED signs intricately bent and welded to create the illusion of floors, ceilings, and even an entire hallway made entirely of flashing, blinking words.

When walking through PROTECT PROTECT there is an overall sense of alienation, but it’s hard to decipher whether this is because of the septic nature of an electronic art installation or because the sheer size of the pieces makes the viewer feel dwarfed by comparison. The signs themselves contain phrases dealing with everything from the current situation in the Middle East to the artist’s own personal musings.  When viewing PROTECT PROTECT, it’s difficult not to feel like you’re deliberately being bombarded with information- perhaps a metaphor for societies current fetish for bite-size, flashy, and easily consumable ideas and our need for immediacy.

In addition to the light installations, Holzer also managed to get hold of declassified pages from US government documents (obtained through the ACLU), which she then turned into large-scale black and white oil paintings. The documents themselves are filled with blacked out and redacted phrases, adding a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding their origin. In all, the most engaging part of Holzer’s exhibit was her use of  technology to turn text into a visually appealing body of work. In PROTECT PROTECT Holzer has begun to answer the question that many in the art world have on their mind: How can we utilize new media to keep our art relevant, innovative, and thought-provoking?

The Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
Showing: March 12- May 31 2009


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