Holzer Inflammatory Essays

Holzer Inflammatory Essays-78
(1979–82) consist of 24 short texts, each a hundred words long, arranged in twenty lines.They are printed in Times Roman Bold Italic and each sheet is 17 x 17 inches.OUR TIMES ARE INTOLERABLE: Jenny Holzer’s Street Posters, 1977-82.

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And finally with Trump, we find ourselves living in a state of siege entirely framed by her incendiary rhetoric: MANIPULATION IS NOT LIMITED TO PEOPLE. What is remarkable about these texts — and what foretells the complex and enigmatic artist Holzer would become — is that their extremities of idealism and abhorrence, compassion and vengeance, analysis and absurdity consolidate into a moral directive within their own amoral universe, aka the realm of art.

ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS CAN BE SHAKEN. As stated on the gallery website, the artworks’ texts are “drawn from far-flung sources, including Emma Goldman, Lenin, Hitler and Valerie Solanis [the would-be assassin of Andy Warhol], but which are strategically distilled into an anonymous, non-unitary voice.” Holzer’s undifferentiated fusion of communism, fascism, and anarchism unsettles the reader even without knowing the derivation of the material; the awareness of it is all the more disturbing.

Jenny Holzer is a Conceptual artist best known for her text-based public art projects.

Holzer's work speaks of violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war and death.

Holzer's art hangs in important collections around the globe including 7 World Trade Center, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In her early years as an artist, Jenny Holzer began working with text as a tool to manipulate the language of pop culture while producing political commentary.In the beginning was the word, and the word was art – though rarely do we conflate the two.Image and text are largely considered distinct forms that have rendered their application as distinct disciplines.The texts appeared anonymously in public space, their perfect square and colorful paper in combination with the formatted text made them carefully seductive.Holzer confronts the reader directly with the content, their random appearance gives no guideline for contextualization, leaving the reader with the responsibility to take a position towards the lines and the furor contained.For the series, Holzer studied the writings of the likes of Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Karl Marx and Emma Goldman, but also crackpot writings and religious fanatics.While these references are long gone, this language has resurfaced broadly in recent years, moving more and more into the political mainstream.That year marked the beginning of the ill-starred presidency of Jimmy Carter, when New York City, overrun by drugs and crime, notably careened from the depths of a fiscal crisis to the chaos of a 25-hour blackout and the Son of Sam shooting spree.Still, even for a year as dire and turbulent as ’77, the sentiments anonymously expressed by Holzer, who was then a student in the Whitney Independent Study Program, seemed over the top: Over the top, until now.By masking the author of the essays, Holzer allows the viewer to assess ideologies divorced from the personalities that propel them.Jenny Holzer first published her Inflammatory Essays in 1977 — square sheets of colored paper printed in all-cap italics — by pasting them on walls, lamp posts, construction sites, and other open-air arenas of public debate.


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