Archive Exhibitions, Exhibition
On view through November 6, 2022
Interested in adding your own sentence to the Truisms posters in this exhibition? A good Truism is short and to the point. Your Truism should read as if it has been in use for a hundred years.
Submit your one-sentence, all-capitalized submission here.
Jenny Holzer’s concise, often enigmatic, writings infiltrate public life and consciousness through everyday objects such as T-shirts, posters, LED signs, and benches, as well as paintings and sculpture. A cross section of these objects is included in Holzer’s new installation, which spans the artist’s career, incorporating ephemera, painted metal signs, posters and drawings.
Holzer began installing her Truisms posters — alphabetical lists of concise statements on subjects from money and class to sex and love — throughout downtown New York in 1977. In the decades since, Holzer’s medium has been words, inflected by each change in material and context. The same text — ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE or PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT — might appear on a baseball hat, a theatre marquee, an LED sign in a museum, or a carved stone bench in a park. Holzer’s newest exhibition focuses on familiar objects that slip across the borders between art and everyday life.
In Holzer’s large-scale projections, which have appeared in over 40 cities in 20 countries, translucent block lettering is sent onto landscapes and architecture, creating a sort of ephemeral graffiti that links her early street practice to her long-standing engagement with media and techniques common to news and advertising. Following her monumental projection-based installation in MASS MoCA’s largest gallery, Building 5, in 2007 — her first indoor projection in the U.S. — Holzer’s work has been on view in the Robert W. Wilson Building (Building 6) since 2017. Her works at MASS MoCA have included For North Adams, an outdoor projection on the River Street side of the factory’s complex (summer 2017), and the siting of twenty-one of her carved stone benches across MASS MoCA’s sixteen-acre campus. A selection of her stone benches are currently on long-term view throughout the Robert W. Wilson Building; a full list of works currently on view and their locations can be found in the checklist linked below.
Lady Pink x Jenny Holzer
B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building, Fl 3
On view beginning July 30
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, both Lady Pink and Jenny Holzer infiltrated public spaces in New York with their respective artworks: Lady Pink created large-scale graffiti murals, while Holzer anonymously pasted posters and applied stickers bearing thought-provoking texts. After meeting circa 1982, the artists collaborated on a series of paintings combining text by Holzer and imagery by Lady Pink. They have reunited for a new project at MASS MoCA. Much as Holzer’s Truisms and Inflammatory Essays represent a variety of perspectives and philosophies, the images in Lady Pink’s mural—from memento mori to characters rendered in a style reminiscent of mid-century comic books—reference a range of artistic idioms and histories. Learn more about Lady Pink and the project here.
About the Artist
For more than 40 years, Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including 7 World Trade Center, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Her medium, whether formulated as a T-shirt, a plaque, or an LED sign, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. Starting in the 1970s with the New York City posters and continuing through her recent light projections on landscape and architecture, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and courage. Holzer received the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in 1996, and the U.S. State Department’s International Medal of Arts in 2017. She holds honorary degrees from Williams College, the Rhode Island School of Design, the New School, and Smith College. She lives and works in New York.
Principal exhibition support is provided by Anne and Gregory Avis. Major exhibition support is provided by the VIA Art Fund. Contributing exhibition support is provided by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.