With courage and a critical sense, Jenny Holzer has been exploring for years the fundamental topics of human existence focusing on public art and on language as primary channel of communication. Her work explores different expressive materials as well as concepts and theoretical elements, structured around installations with a strong evocative function. If it is not always possible to represent the ineffable nature of things, Holzer demonstrates that through artistic action the indescribable becomes communicable and interpretable.
Holzer is one of the most influential personalities within the conceptual art scene. The exhibition promoted by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao explores a career of more than 40 years articulated in an artistic production with a great critical and aesthetic impact. Concepts/words compose incisive text series that constantly question reality, with firmness but also humor, leading us to reflect on the quality of messages that we continuously receive from the lithosphere of social reality.
The installations are in dialogue with the environmental context, semantic visual gears, living and luminous statements, or ephemeral solid rocks, physical entities that interact with the spectator, proving that it is possible to speak to contemporary man in his own familiar language.
The challenging subjects of her works include concepts such as: hope, violence, power, oppression, reflections on language and on the role of the body and of the intellect in the interpretation of what happens and what is expressed and organized through the logos.
There is no dichotomy between aesthetic and conceptual level in the artistic experience. Holzer’s installations are both intellectual experiential operations in where the presence of written messages that occupy public areas plays an important role defining and transmitting our urban collective history.
Thus, the interpretation of reality becomes a fundamental practice that must be safeguarded as well as all the emotional elements that are part of this process. The titles of the installations are strong, direct and critically provocative.
It is not a coincidence that the famous Protect me from what I want statement, for example, has inspired the title of a famous song composed by the English band Placebo.
Holzer’s work reminds us the urgency to express and activate critical reflections on things, even if they are apparently indescribable. Tirelessly observing, tirelessly protecting art and through art our look on objects which compose reality.
“Jenny Holzer. Thing Indescribable” is on view until 9 September at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
Jenny Holzer, Purple (Púrpura), 2008 Texto: documentos del Gobierno estadounidense Cortesía de la artista © 2019 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/VEGAP Foto: Collin LaFleche
Jenny Holzer, Ram (Ariete), 2016 Cortesía de la artista y Hauser & Wirth © 2019 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/VEGAP Foto: Collin LaFleche
Texto: “Two Faces the Color of Iron” (Dos caras del color del hierro, de Building the Barricade (La construcción de la barricada), traducido al inglés por Piotr Florczyk. © 2016 Tavern Books. Utilizado con permiso de Ludmilla Adamska-Orłowska y del traductor.
Giuliana Schiavone. Art critic and curator based in Italy and Mexico dedicated to the communication and teaching of visual arts. Active contributor to national and international art and fashion magazines as well as promotion of contemporary art. Actively working for cultural and exhibition projects. Graduated as Art Historian and Jazz Musician with a Master in Art Curatorship following an interdisciplinary vision of artistic and aesthetic phenomenons.