Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is a conceptual artist from Ohio with a diverse education in fine arts, including several degrees from RISD. Her work focuses on public space, and mainly involves LED projections of text in a public atmosphere. Holzer’s use of media includes bronze plaques, painted signs, stone benches and footstools, stickers, T-shirts, condoms, paintings, photographs, sound, video, and the Internet, to name a few. Holzer’s use of language in her work is meant to provoke a response from the viewer, and often comments on society. Her intent is to address things that are often overlooked, or hidden.

Holzer’s work reminded me greatly of Barbara Kruger’s, a conceptual artist who combines text and image to comment on society. Kruger’s bold assessments of contemporary society have made her one of my favorite artists, so naturally I loved Holzer’s work. It is explicit enough to be recognized as a critique, yet at the same time it remains slightly ambiguous, so that the meaning is specific to the viewer. I think it is fascinating how the use of text manipulates what the viewer is thinking, but at the same time allows the viewer to derive his or her own meaning from the words before them. It generates an emotional response that is so unique, and so powerful. A couple of my favorites were projections on what appears to be a cityscape in the first, and a cloudy night sky in the second. The first proclaimed, “This is no fantasy”, while the second warned “Don’t allow the lucid moment to dissolve”. The actual photographic quality of the projections is stunningly eerie, especially in the second. Both i felt demonstrated this sense of ambiguity yet specificity that I think is a driving force in Holzer’s work. Although I derived certain meanings that I could apply to my own life, I thought that Holzer’s main intent was to denounce complacency, and to encourage viewers to be more aware of reality of the world we live in.

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