The main element of Jenny Holzer’s artwork is text, particularly text displayed in public spaces. Her work incorporates an array of media including LED signage, light projection, posters, the internet, and condoms. She first used street posters to publicly display text. The text Holzer chooses for her work often deals with various powerful issues including war, power, oppression, feminism, and consumerism. She wrote her own text for her work up until around 2001 but has mainly worked with text written by others since about 1993.
Holzer’s display of text reminds me in some respects of the work of Matt Siber, an artist the class previously reviewed. Both artists’ work involves a manipulation of text in public spaces in a manner that is surprising and makes a statement. Jenny Holzer’s biography page on the Art:21 website states, “While her subversive work often blends in among advertisements in public space, its arresting content violates expectations.”
Jenny Holzer’s art is assertive, bold, and subversive.