As the end of another Berlin, summer draws closer, I have just visited London to speak with new creative agencies about exciting work projects in Autumn and Winter.
Something I really miss when out of the UK is London’s museums and galleries as this is an area where Berlin just doesn’t compare in my opinion (sorry Berlin, I normally sing your praises for pretty much everything).
I was delighted to learn that the work of Jenny Holzer is currently shown as a free exhibition at the Tate Modern. I have found her iconic large-scale text projections fascinating for some time, and it was great to learn more about her art through the exhibition.
Holzer is an American artist born in 1950 who’s work calls to attention words and ideas in public spaces, particularly messages of social justice, feminist issues and the human condition through stark lines of text displayed in a wide variety of mediums beyond the projections I was familiar with. Display materials include T-shirts, trucker hats, billboards, LED advertising signs, parking meters, posters, plaques and many more. I have always disliked exclusivity in the art world and I have aimed to create work which is accessible and engaging to all rather than a few, so I really liked Jenny’s reasons for working with language and the mediums she chose.
"………..I want to make art that's understandable, that has some relevance and importance to almost anyone inclined to look. Once I've made the stuff, the idea is to get it to people. I want people to encounter the work in different ways, to find it on the street, to spot it on signs and on tractor hats"
Holzer’s first text series Truisms written 1977-1979 was on show. Truisms is a “survey of belief” which calls to attention the information overload as we are surrounded by over 300 slogans, clichés and maxims. Originally displayed as anonymous posters on the streets of New York, the messages are often contradictory.
Blue Purple Tilt 2007 was created when Holzer later became interested in LED art. The work reconfigures earlier works from Truisms with LED displays positioned against the wall as sculptural works in their own right. As well as engaging the viewer with the words it delivers, the light units give off a hypnotic glow to the surrounding spaces which is constantly morphing with the changing messages.
"A great feature of the electronic signs is their capacity to move content. I love that because motion is much like the spoken word: you can emphasize phrases; you can roll and pause, the kinetic equivalent to inflection ... I write my text by saying the words out loud, or I write and then say words, to test them"
Also on display is Inflammatory Essays 1979-1982, a collection of essays which each feature 100 words in 20 lines within which the artist explores extreme ideas. The essays are printed on coloured paper creating a bright visual mosaic of language, in a slightly sinister juxtaposition to the playful colour scheme, the posters deliver caustic and aggressive messages on violence, consumerism, relations between the sexes and the abuse of power.
Jenny Holzer is on Display at the Tate Modern as a free exhibition until 31 July 2019