Jenny Holzer’s raison d’être as an artist is to provoke a strong response from the people who view her work. Be it positive, negative, outraged or inspired, when it comes to Holzer’s artwork, there are no half-hearted response. This Spring, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents a major retrospective of her work, spanning 40 decades and comprising a hefty archive of influential projects. Emerging in the 1980s as part of a feminist crowd of artists, Holzer is a neo-conceptual artist whose primary medium is text. Her work is focused on delivering words and expressing ideas in public spaces, be that posters pasted across the city, advertising billboards, large scale projections and most famously, LED signs.
Her most famous work ‘Truisms’, which is on display at the exhibition comprised over 300 slogans and aphorisms associated with commercial language, including ‘Protect me from what I want’ and ‘Abuse of power comes as no surprise’. Plastered across New York city, printed on t-shirts and stickers and eventually presented as LED artworks in the public domain, the project highlights the power of free speech. Like all of her work, it is a comment on the role of public art as a communication tool, highlighting the power of free speech and human interaction. Other notable works include ‘Inflammatory Essays’, a series of posters, cast plaques and painted metal signs which nod to her beginnings as a street artist. Combatting violence and ignorance with humour and kindness, Holzer is renowned for her provocative take on eco, social and political issues and her innovative approach to work. over the course of her career she has employed some of the most advanced technologies including virtual reality, drones, net art and even an augmented reality mobile app. Her response to the US governments distribution of information following 9/11 takes the form of oil paintings and watercolour images of publicly released documents.
Jenny Holzer : Thing Indescribable runs at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from 22nd March until 2nd September 2019.