At MASS MoCA, Jenny Holzer presented her first interior light projections in the United States. The projections transformed the enormous, seemingly empty gallery in Building 5 into an engaging and provocative meeting place flooded with words, bodies, and light. Also on view was a new series of paintings from declassified government documents, first shown, in part, at the 2007 Venice Biennale. Holzer's display of government documents, such as planning maps for the invasion of Iraq, revealed the bureaucratic administration of war through the cloud of paint and the weight of a looming installation.
“WISH LIST” document:
A captain in the US Army human intelligence division requested a "wish list" from subordinate interrogation teams for, "innovative interrogation techniques that will prove more successful than current methods." One person interpreted this request to mean, "the captain wanted suggestions legal, illegal and somewhere in between." The WISH LIST document is a summary of alternative interrogation techniques that the 4th Infantry Division, ICE, devised, including phone book strikes, low voltage electrocution and muscle fatigue inducement.
The documents can be found on the ACLU website. The “WISH LIST” is on p. 59.
The other paintings are titled Faint Hand, Large Left Hand, and Large Right Hand.
Supported in part by Sandy and Floss Frucher, and Charles Passarelli of FX Productions.
Jenny Holzer’s PROJECTIONS Opens at MASS MoCA November 18
First U.S. installation of interior light projections to be exhibited with new paintings.
(North Adams, Mass.) – For thirty years, Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions. Her medium, whether formulated as a light projection, a plaque, an electronic sign, or a painting, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. In PROJECTIONS, opening at MASS MoCA on Sunday, November 18, 2007, Holzer will use MASS MoCA’s massive Building 5 as the site of her first interior light projections installed in the United States. In an adjoining gallery, Holzer will exhibit a new series of paintings shown, in part, at the 2007 Venice Biennale.
Akin to credits rolling at the end of a film, light projections allow Holzer to work demonstratively with the ephemeral. Since 1996, Holzer has engaged landscape and architecture as the screens for her work; spaces, people, and time are tucked into a spare and affirming gesture. Linking her early street-based practice to her long-standing engagement with media and tactics common to news and advertising, the projections have enabled the artist to continue to reach and intrigue new audiences. Holzer’s projections have taken place in five continents, over a dozen countries, and nearly thirty cities.
Though the artist has made use of exterior light projections in public spaces for over a decade, her first interior projections were shown in 2006 at the MAK in Vienna, where she collaborated with the Austrian writer and Nobel-laureate, Elfriede Jelinek. The interior projections create an immersive environment where legible texts overlap and ride into a surround of white light and language. With two projectors facing each other, the seemingly empty room is transformed into a flooded meeting place of bodies, words, and visual subtleties. Whether in urban or rural settings, outdoors or inside, using her own writings or those of others, the ambition of each projection remains the same: “I show what I can with words in light and motion in a chosen place, and when I envelop the time needed, the space around, the noise, smells, the people looking at one another and everything before them, I have given what I know.”
In addition to the light projections, Holzer will hang a large room of paintings of formerly classified government documents. Included in this series are maps, originally part of a PowerPoint presentation, that reveal various planning stages prior to the invasion of Iraq. Holzer’s display of maps and documents reveal the bureaucratic administration of war through the cloud of paint and the weight of a looming installation.
In the September 2006 issue of Artforum, art historian and critic David Joselit wrote, “If information is supposed to be ‘public’ property, Jenny Holzer's redaction paintings... offer a spectacle of its foreclosure. These works reproduce documents related to the persecution of war in Iraq ranging from government memos to the sworn statements of soldiers that are just as shocking for their copious deletion of names, phrases, and passages as they are for re-counting atrocities in the bland idiom of bureaucratic forms... But to see these pockmarked pages rendered as con-temporary history paintings is a powerful reminder that a major front in any modern war must be informational... Should this shrewd exposure of the becoming-painting of the Bush administration's acts of censorship be under-stood as a condemnation of the pictorial, or is Holzer's rendering of obscure and harrowing documents as works of art a way of restoring their status as public speech?”
PROJECTIONS will be on display at MASS MoCA until fall 2008.
About MASS MoCA
MASS MoCA is the country’s largest center for contemporary performing and visual arts and is located in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a restored 19th-century factory campus. MASS MoCA’s galleries are open from 11 – 5 every day except Tuesdays. Gallery admission is $12.50 for adults, $9 for students, $5 for children 6 – 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413 662 2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.