Lorde's version of Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays. Image courtesy of Lorde's Instgram

Why Lorde pinned a Jenny Holzer work to her Grammys dress

Here’s what you need to know about the Inflammatory Essay Lorde pinned on her frock last night

At last night’s Grammy Awards artists such such as Lady Gaga, Rita Ora, Kelly Clarkson and Kendrick Lamar wore white roses in support of Time’s Up, the movement supporting gender equality and condemning sexual harassment.

However, the young New Zealander created her own work in tribute to Time's Up. Rather than wear a white rose, she copied out one of Jenny Holzer’s Infammatory Essays, a series of text works created during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and attached it to the back of her red Valentino dress.

The works originally addressed the febrile times of late 20th century America, though many believe the essays still capture much that is wrong with the world in 2018.


One of Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays in poster form
One of Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays in poster form

“Abrasive, biting commentary is hardly organized in a ramble of thoughts and ideas,” explains Artspace, “though Holzer's stream-of-consciousness is a valuable source of insight - her feminist dogmas rise to the surface in the allusions to 'him' as a perpetrator of violence.”

Holzer reached an early audience by printing her essays on to street posters. “Each poster was a different colour,” the artist explains in our book on Holzer, “a change of colour would announce the appearance of a new text. The essays had exactly 100 words in twenty lines: the inspirational literature was the writing of Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxemburg, Mao, Lenin, et al.”

Lorde tweaked that formula a little, fitting Holzer’s words into just eleven lines, before posting it on Instagram.

To see and perhaps even own original Holzer prints of her Inflammatory Essays, take a look at Artspace; for more on artistic texts get Art is the Highest Form of Hope. And check out our Jenny Holzer Contemporary Artist Series book here