Jenny Holzer - The Power of Words

"I don’t want to be looked at or dismissed, or even attract anybody, as a female."

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is an American neo-conceptual artist that rose to prominence in the 1980s. At the forefront of the feminist movement, alongside fellow artists such as Barbara Kruger, Holzer’s text based work delivers messages and ideas in public spaces.

Using different supports to deliver her words, Holzer utilizes a large variety of modern communication mediums to address the politics of discourse. Covering themes of violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war and death, the artist’s main intention is to enlighten, bringing to light the things often thought in silence and meant to remain hidden.

From 1977 to 1993, the artist’s focused on her own texts to create her work. Honing her art, Holzer shaped her words to cut across as she critiqued the culture around her, commented on world occurrences, and delivered her opinion. Holzer’s trademark Truisms would first find the light during this period of her career. Later, Holzer also began including texts written by others into her work, such as Polish Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska, American poets, Henri Cole and Walt Whitman, to name but a few. It was also during the 90s that she would start to use LED’s, allowing her to do large scale artworks that projected her words across city landscapes.

In 1989, Holzer became the second female artist chosen to represent the United States at the very prestigious Venice Biennale in Italy. At the 44th Biennale in 1990, her LED sign boards and marble benches occupied a solemn and austere exhibition space in the American Pavilion; she also designed posters, hats, and T-shirts to be sold in the streets of Venice. The installation, Mother and Child, won Holzer the Leone D'Oro for best pavilion. The 69-year-old Holzer is an inspiration to a lot of artists, including Coco Capitán, with whom we collaborated to produce a limited edition.

Recently, in her continued activism, Holzer displayed “IMPEACH” on electronic sign trucks across major cities in the United States, directly addressing the Senate impeachment trial.