Jenny Holzer discusses the process behind her series of Xenon Projections as part of the exhibition PROTECT PROTECT at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Featured works include Projection for Chicago (2008), a multi-part projection of the texts of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska on building facades around the city, including the Lyric Opera House & Riverside Plaza, among others. Holzer’s traveling exhibition opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York on March 12, 2009.
Whether questioning consumerist impulses, describing torture, or lamenting death and disease, Jenny Holzer’s use of language provokes a response in the viewer. While her subversive work often blends in among advertisements in public space, its arresting content violates expectations. Holzer’s texts—such as the aphorisms “abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “protect me from what I want”—have appeared on posters and condoms, and as electronic LED signs and projections of xenon light. Holzer’s recent use of text ranges from silk-screened paintings of declassified government memoranda detailing prisoner abuse, to poetry and prose in a 65-foot wide wall of light in the lobby of 7 World Trade Center, New York.