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Holzer debuts her "heap of displays" in Hong Kong

Jenny Holzer's Light Stream installation updates earlier slogans in a "pulsating, flashing heap of text"
Ribs (2010) by Jenny Holzer
Ribs (2010) by Jenny Holzer


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Both Jenny Holzer and her Truisms series have come along way since the late seventies. These 253 blunt aphorisms - which include statements like ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE and DECADENCE CAN BE AN END IN ITSELF - were fly-posted by the artist around lower Manhattan back in 1977, but have since found their way onto other products; PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT appeared on a military-style baseball cap, while EVERYONE'S WORK IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT cropped up on the back of cash register receipts.

 

From Truisms (1977–9) by Jenny Holzer

From Truisms (1977–9) by Jenny Holzer

Meanwhile, Holzer has moved on from downtown notoriety to become one of the most highly regarded contemporary artists, now best known for displaying her work in electronic media.

Her debut show in Hong Kong, opening 18 September at the Pearl Lam gallery, updates her Truisms series, alongside other sets of text, including Living (1980 - 82), a set of longer, more introspective statements, as well a Survival (1983 - 85) a shorter, funnier and more urgent series. All three are worked into Light Stream, a series of LED readouts which the gallery describes as "a pulsating, flashing heap of text, with statements layered and wrapped around one another in frenetic light and colour," as well as a set of marble benches, into which the artist has engraved texts too.

 

Torso (2007) by Jenny Holzer

Torso (2007) by Jenny Holzer

Some might view this wild mix of messages as lessening the impact of Holzer's work, which often requires viewers to dwell on this or that statement. However, the artist thinks the frenetic quality is a valuable extension of her practice.

"Though I rely on minimalist configurations, for decades I have wanted to offer a massive, irrational, unpredictable heap of glittering displays," explains the artist. "I am happy about the paradox -- what appears wild, chaotic, and spontaneous is a greater technical puzzle and more difficult challenge to realize. Pearl Lam Galleries and years of building precisely configured LED signs have made this new electronic wilderness possible."

And there are few artists better placed to guide us around such a wilderness as Holzer. To find out more about the exhibition, go here. To understand Holzer' development and practice better, please take a look at our great monograph; for a wider grasp of art in the digital age, also take a look at Art and Electronic Media. And before you buy anything, do sign up for our club, to gain rewards points on purchases, as well as exclusive events and offers.


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