Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 272: Words as water

from Protect Protect at the Whitney

I've been a big fan of Jenny Holzer most of my life. It was an encounter with a single slide of her work in an undergrad art class that actually sold me on art as potential career path. The work in her current show at the Whitney strikes me as utterly contemporary. Words remain the medium, but the relationship continues to be dynamic. The words that were once wheat-pasted onto doors and trash cans in the 70's now glide like water across the floor. They flash, swirl and angle across walls and rooms, conjuring the Las Vegas strip, time square tickers and Shibuya crossing simultaneously. These virtual messages are everywhere in our contemporary world, pulsing into our subconsciousness. Holzer's trusims ring no less true than they did several decades ago, and are interspersed with phrases that mark our specific place in time today. The juxtaposition is rich. Jenny Holzer exists as one of few artists making work about the current Iraq war. Moving between two galleries, one of electronic art and one a room of redacted paintings, splashed with black, one finds the need to juggle between the two. To slow down, be with the words. Take in the ambiguous and literal realities behind them, and then get swept up into sensation again.

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