Kukje Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition of American conceptual artist, Jenny Holzer. From late 1970s onwards, Jenny Holzer has cannily transformed public systems of display into the forms that shape and hold her art. While language always has functioned as Holzer's primary medium, it cannot be dissociated from the ingenious and sly choices of bodies that hold the text. From posters, bronze plaques, and marble benches to electronic signs and light projections, the physical lives of her work question how modes of mass address form publics and communities. While she first used existing electronic signs like the Spectacolor sign in New York City's Times Square to disorient the usual reception of news and advertising, Holzer now configures LED (light-emitting diode) signs into sculptural arrangements that derange architectural space and thoughtfully complicate a viewer’s relationship to place. Starting in 1986, Holzer began making functional stone bench sculptures where her texts could be embedded. A solid counterpoint to the immaterial light of the electronics, the bench and footstool stone works also recall memorial forms that keep often violent and tragic past events alive through objects in the landscape. Her light projections onto architecture and landscapes, first realized in 1996, continue this sculptural study of place. By casting language onto a building’s facade, Holzer uses the languid scroll to translate a familiar edifice into a site that becomes newly known. Presumptions, such as the transparency of language, history, and place, become as tenuous as the fugitive light that slips off an electronic sign or above a facade when a projection ends.
For her second solo exhibition at Kukje Gallery, Holzer will present two new large-scale electronic signs, an arrangement of marble footstools, and a selection of her pigment prints that give a continuing presence to past projections. Programmed with a selection of Holzer’s writing, electronic signs demonstrate Holzer’s increasing use of the medium for its sculptural capacities. Though she initially turned to the LED sign in the early 1980s for its connotations with news and advertising and as a mode of direct address, Holzer now uses the electronic sign for its ability to manipulate space and augment architecture. Formally, the configurations are suggestive of the elegant simplicity of Minimalist artworks by Donald Judd, John McCracken, Dan Flavin, and others that brought heightened awareness to art's environment and context. But the display of her texts on these “minimal” forms denies that any space is general or that any environment is neutral. Her texts, constructed to indicate that identity and society are also processes of manufacture, suggest the particularity of place and the specificity of the individual encounter. The footstools, as their name implies, presume a person’s use, a body’s touch. While the material is one that bespeaks endurance and survival, it heightens the distinction between stone and skin, the eternal and the short-lived. This temporal disjunction is also present in the pigment prints that capture projections in Rome, Berlin, London, and other historic world capitals. In black and white, the melancholic tone befits a project that desperately and beautifully gives weight to time. While Holzer frequently uses her own texts (13 series written from 1977-2001), she also employs poetry and writing borrowed from others. An example of this borrowing and collaboration can be seen in the pigment print Talking Politics which incorporates the work of the Polish poet and Nobel laureate, Wislawa Symborska. Other projections incorporate the poetry and writings of Henri Cole, Yehuda Amichai, James Schuyler, among others. In all of her projections, Holzer attempts to provide a representative surround of voices, opinions, and moods in order to approximate the teeming diversity of those who might encounter the scrolling language. Together, the three bodies of work heighten the viewer's sense of the fragility of moments and persons.
Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including 7 World Trade Center, the Reichstag, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Holzer received the Leone d'Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1990 and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum in 1996. She holds honorary degrees from Ohio University, Williams College, the Rhode Island School of Design, The New School, and Smith College. She received the Barnard Medal of Distinction in 2011. Holzer lives and works in New York.