Krakow Witkin Gallery is proud to present “Jenny Holzer: Texts Work,” a selection of works utilizing texts the artist wrote, compiled and presented in different forms over the past thirty-five years.
The earliest work in the show is the iconic “Truisms” (1977-79), presented here as part of three different works (two LEDS and a granite footstool). The “Truisms” series was written by Holzer to resemble existing truisms, maxims, and clichés. Each Truism distills difficult and contentious ideas into a seemingly straightforward fact. Privileging no single viewpoint, the “Truisms” examine the social construction of beliefs, mores, and truths. 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.
The selection here also includes the 20 sheets from “Inflammatory Essays” (1979-1982). Influenced by Holzer’s readings of political, art, religious, utopian, and other manifestos, the “Inflammatory Essays” are a collection of 100-word texts that were printed on colored paper and, originally, posted throughout New York City. Like any manifesto, the voice in each essay urges and espouses a strong and particular ideology. By masking the author of the essays, Holzer allows the viewer to assess ideologies divorced from the personalities that propel them. With this series, Holzer invites the reader to consider the urgent necessity of social change, the possibility for manipulation of the public, and the conditions that attend revolution.
In addition to these two early bodies of work, there are numerous other pieces, including a metal plaque, several photographs of recent projections, a single etching as well as a suite of etchings from her body of work using redacted material and four LED pieces of different scales. Within the last 15 years or so, Holzer has gone back into her texts and combined different ones so that, while the individual bodies of text continue to cause impact, the juxtaposing of subject matter between texts cause a challenging dialogue. Much like within the early Truisms, where no single viewpoint is privileged, the relationship between the subjects in the various texts provide a non-hierarchical approach to investigation. Not only a survey of the texts used, this selection serves as a display of the varying combinations and dynamic readings of the texts when presented through the different media that Holzer uses.
For more than forty 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 Barnard Medal of Distinction in 2011. 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.