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Jenny Holzer - Recent Works at The Contemporary Museum
Jenny Holzer, Installation Kukje Gallery, Seoul Korea, mini LED signs. Text: Truisms (1977-1979). ©2006 Jenny Holzer, member Artist Rights Society (ARS), NY.

HONOLULU.- The Contemporary Museum presents internationally-recognized American artist Jenny Holzer. Jenny Holzer, known for her socially–and politically–charged works, rose to prominence in the international art world during the 1980s. Holzer uses and words as her images and language as her medium. Employing such diverse surfaces as posters, t-shirts, plaques, stone benches, and her signature LED (light-emitting diode) electronic display boards, as well as her monumental nighttime scrolling film projections on buildings and landscape, Holzer’s texts range from deadpan aphorisms to meditations on the human condition.

The exhibition comprises a selection of Holzer's recent 2005-2006 Redaction series paintings, which debuted in New York in spring 2006 and are being shown for the first time in a museum at The Contemporary Museum. In these works, which derive from declassified government and military documents obtained from the National Security Archive (NSA), created through the use of Freedom of Information Act, the artist negotiates the political landscape after 9/11 and traces the debate over the practice of intelligence and counterintelligence, including issues of prisoner/detainee abuse, and the ongoing tragedies of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As with her previous works, Holzer's relay of information and presentation of a range of voices presume no particular ideology. The Redaction paintings (redaction means to edit and make ready for publication) lend tactility to documents often unseen and offer visibility to hidden pasts and a masked present. “The beginning of the war will be secret” announces one of Holzer’s better-known text pieces in the generically titled series, “Truisms.” The evidence presented in Holzer’s most recent paintings bears that assertion out.

Among the Redaction paintings that will be on view is BIG HANDS YELLOW WHITE reproducing hand prints from the Department of Defense in which the censors have inked out the traces of individual identity, leaving blocks of black ink that become generalized blocky shapes of a left hand and a right hand. A particularly revealing and resonant work, PHOENIX GREEN WHITE, reproduces the famous Phoenix memo sent from the Phoenix, Arizona FBI office to the counterterrorism division in Washington, D.C. and dated July 10, 2001, just two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The memo advises the FBI of the possibility of a coordinated effort by Usama Bin Laden (UBL) to send students to the U.S. to attend civil aviation schools. A group of paintings in the exhibition comprise a grid of autopsy reports in which the frequent deaths of prisoners are dutifully analyzed and registered by doctors from the Armed Services Institute of Pathology, often with the declaration “Cause of Death: Homicide.” As Requested and Several Days Ago derive from memos concerning suspected detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay. As a Parent is a poignant a letter from a father in support of his soldier son who is charged with crimes and facing court martial.

The exhibition will also include a large installation of 48 multi-colored mini-LED panels scrolling texts from Holzer's series Truisms, Arno, Inflamatory Essays, Lustmord, Mother and Child, Laments, and Under a Rock, as well as three engraved white marble footstools, with texts from Holzer’s Survival Series.

Jenny Holzer was born July 29, 1950, in Gallipolis, Ohio. She received a B.F.A. in printmaking and painting from Ohio University, Athens, in 1972, and in 1975, she entered the M.F.A. painting program at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. While there, she began to introduce language into her work. Holzer moved to New York after earning her degree at R.I.S.D. in 1977, and enrolled in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. That year, she began the investigation of means to disseminate her ideas within public space and created her first all-text works, the Truisms series, printing them on paper, which she pasted up anonymously around the city.

Holzer has been the recipient of several important awards, including the Blair Award, presented by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982, and the Leone d’Oro award for best pavilion at the 44th Venice Biennale in 1990, and the Berlin Prize Fellowship from The American Academy in Berlin in 2000.

Her work has appeared in numerous solo exhibitions worldwide in prominent institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the Institute of Contemporary Art London, the MAK in Vienna, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Holzer has created many public projects, among them a Truisms display on the Spectacolor Board in Times Square in 1982, sponsored by the Public Art Fund, and a series of public spots for MTV in 1989. Most recently, she was commissioned to create a large LED work for the lobby of the new Seven World Trade Center building.

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