Selections from Truisms
Edition of 4
6 1/2 x 57 3/4 x 2 inches (16.5 x 146.7 x 5.1 cm)
Signed on affixed label on reverse
Jenny Holzer wrote “Truisms” to resemble existing truisms, maxims, and clichés. Each “Truism” distills difficult and contentious ideas into a seemingly straightforward fact. The terseness and resolve of the language invites easy agreement, but this feeling is complicated by the contradictions apparent when the various statements are read together. Privileging no single viewpoint, taken together, the “Truisms” examine the social construction of beliefs, mores, and truths. “There’d be left-wing ones, there’d be right-wing ones, there would be loony ones, there’d be heartland ones,” Holzer explained of the variety of phrases. Holzer hoped they would focus people’s awareness of the ‘usual baloney they are fed.’ “Truisms” confirms that how we read a phrase has everything to do with where it appears. The “Truisms” first were shown on anonymous street posters that were wheat pasted throughout downtown Manhattan, and subsequently have appeared on T-shirts, hats, electronic signs, stone floors, projections and benches, among other supports. Krakow Witkin Gallery presents the 1984 LED, “Truisms” (one from the edition of four is also in the Tate Modern’s collection).
Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including 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 a T-shirt, plaque, or LED sign, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to her work. Starting in the 1970s with her New York City street posters and continuing through her light projections on landscape and architecture, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor and kindness.