- On view now
- MASS MoCA
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. The opening reception is on October 26.
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 will be featured in a series of exhibitions on the third floor of Building 6 through 2032. 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.
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.