Rejoice! Our Times are Intolerable

Rejoice! Our Times are Intolerable

Jenny Holzer, “The end of the USA”. Credit: Sock Studio. 

Jenny Holzer, “The end of the USA”. Credit: Sock Studio. 

In the face of a millenial, Jenny Holzer’s language-based works read: one-liners, clickbait, and #alternativefacts. Per usual, the millennial would be right. Alden Projects latest exhibition REJOICE! OUR TIMES ARE INTOLERABLE: Jenny Holzer’s Street Posters,1977-82, is a narrow focus of the artist's first two series of work, Truisms (1977-79) and Inflammatory Essays (1977-82).

Jenny Holzer, Plate, from Truisms, 1977–79. Credit: Art Institute of Chicago.

Jenny Holzer, Plate, from Truisms, 1977–79. Credit: Art Institute of Chicago.

Holzer devised nearly 300 aphorisms playing on commonly held truths that she printed and anonymously wheat-pasted all over lower Manhattan in the '70s. Truisms are pronouncements, poetic invitations to take action. The voice is non-unitary, spewing contradictory tenets in black ink on white paper. Alden Projects includes early versions of the prints for comparison allowing a timeline view of how the work methodically developed, as the posters were updated and alphabetized over the years.

Some of Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays. Credit: Alden Projects.

Some of Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays. Credit: Alden Projects.

The manifesto-like Inflammatory Essays are italicized, mostly all-capped, shouting content derived from politicians, radical feminists, dictators, anarchists, and biblical prophets. Around 30 different “essays” are squared-off on colored papers. Each paper hosts 100-word texts on 20 lines urging a particular ideology and ruthless criticisms of our time.

Jenny Holzer, “Change is the basis of all history, the proof of vigor”. Credit:Sock Studio.

Jenny Holzer, “Change is the basis of all history, the proof of vigor”. Credit:Sock Studio.

Jenny Holzer, “You get amazing sensations from guns”. Credit: Sock Studio. 

Jenny Holzer, “You get amazing sensations from guns”. Credit: Sock Studio. 

Both Truisms and Essays found themselves repurposed throughout the artist’s work, reappearing on t-shirts and hats, marble benches and LED signs. Since the '80s, the style of Holzer’s essays has been altered by a long line of Tumblr bloggers and fine artists using the street poster aesthetic topped with popular texts from our contemporaries, aka Drake lyrics. 

Credit: eBay

Credit: eBay

Jenny Holzer, Benches, 1989. Credit: Oren Slor

Jenny Holzer, Benches, 1989. Credit: Oren Slor

 Drizzy Inflammatory Essays. Credit: Sweatshirt by Art Baby Girl sold at Tictail.

 Drizzy Inflammatory Essays. Credit: Sweatshirt by Art Baby Girl sold at Tictail.

Holzer’s work is on view at Alden Projects through February 12. Her words appear next as a projection onto the facade of the Aarhus Theatre in Denmark on February 25.

 

 

Jennifer Rubell's New York Debut at Sargent's Daughters

Jennifer Rubell's New York Debut at Sargent's Daughters

A Not So Gentle Reminder to Fight for Our Rights

A Not So Gentle Reminder to Fight for Our Rights