Saturday, December 17, 2011

Make Her Work: Jenny Holzer

by Drew Martin
I just saw Claudia Muller's documentary About Jenny Holzer, which is quite interesting. Holzer is the mother of text art. Her aphorisms/truisms have been placed and projected around the world on buildings, rivers, individuals and crowds.

Several times in the film, Holzer claims she is not a writer but attributes her form to her Midwestern roots where the spoken language is plain and succinct. The exception, she says, is that Midwesterners would typically be prone to keep things to themselves. Holzer writes with a personal (but not necessarily autobiographical) voice in a public forum.

Holzer started out as a painter and found her way to text by writing on top of abstract paintings. Many of her projects have only existed on moving electronic tables - her trademark LED displays. A friend describes her as a sensualist in the art-making process, which is why she likes projecting onto various surfaces that provide real texture. I do like how the movement of her text can be read as simply motion, which in itself tells us something without words.