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Jenny Holzer For North Adams

  • Exhibition

  • May 27–June 25, 2017

For North Adams, 2017
Light projection
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA

Saturday, May 27 – Sunday, June 25
Wednesdays through Sundays, from dusk until 11pm

Text rises out of the surface of the Hoosic River or materializes on blades of grass before scrolling slowly over industrial pane glass windows and brick. The beauty of the projected words meets their content with a jolt, their clean, sharp forms spelling out descriptions of bullets puncturing flesh, homes torn asunder by bombs, and the voice of a father, calling out for a child uprooted “from the soil that embraces his bones.”

In For North Adams, a new projection by Jenny Holzer, the artist explores war’s devastating humanitarian legacy and today’s unfolding international refugee crisis with vivid eyewitness accounts. Holzer projects a collection of texts onto five sections of MASS MoCA’s north façade, including works from contemporary international poets from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Ethiopia; over 60 poems by Anna Świrszczyńska (Swir) from her epic cycle, Building the Barricade, a day-to-day account of The Warsaw Uprising, where she was a nurse working with the Polish resistance during the Nazi siege of the city in 1944; interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch with peaceful political protesters arrested, detained and tortured by the Assad regime shortly before the country’s civil conflict began; and case studies of Syrian families compiled by Save the Children in their work assisting refugees in camps in Jordan.

These texts afford glimpses into daily life during wartime. Moments of violence, tenderness, and yearning coexist, confronting viewers with the very human implications of conflict.

Jenny Holzer, For North Adams, 2017
Light projection
Text: “A Child Is Scared,” from Building The Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska, translated by Piotr Florczyk. Translation copyright © 2016. Published by Tavern Books. Used by permission of Ludmilla Adamska-Orłowska and the translator.
© 2017 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
photo: Ash Ferlito / Jake Forney