“I want the meaning to be available but I also want it sometimes to disappear into fractured reflections… Because one’s focus comes and goes, one’s ability to understand what’s happening ebbs and flows. I like the representation of language to be the same” – Jenny Holzer cited in: Kelly Shindler, ‘Spotlight on protest: Jenny Holzer’, Art 21, 1 November 2007, online.
Jenny Holzer is a political artist and activist, best known for her text-based public art projects. In her practice Holzer explores how language is used as both a form of communication and a means of concealment. She has a long-held interest in the power and language of advertising, which has resulted in the main focus of her work being the delivery of ideas via words in public places. These projects, which she installs on billboards and buildings, are easily mistaken for advertising, and are aimed at agitating and disturbing. With phrases such as “protect me from what I want” and “abuse of power comes as no surprise”, Jenny Holzer ponders issues of consumerism, death, decay, and abuse. In doing so, both the message and the medium are significant. On why she uses language as her main form of communicating her message Holzer said: “I used language because I wanted to offer content that people — not necessarily art — people could understand.” Jenny Holzer is also known for her printmaking practice, in which she also encourages audiences to think critically about the power of language, that which is spoken, and that which remains unspoken.
American, b. 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio, based in New York.