The Future Please
L&M Arts proudly presents Jenny Holzer: THE FUTURE PLEASE, the artist’s first major exhibition in Los Angeles in many years. To mark the occasion the exhibition will be presented in two parts. The West Gallery will take the viewer through a selection of the artist’s work from the 1970s to the present, including granite benches and her iconic LED signs. The East gallery will showcase Holzer’s latest body of work, the Redaction Paintings, based on declassified and other sensitive US documents and inspired by Russian Constructivism.
For decades, Holzer has captivated audiences with her work, using text as her primary medium. The words themselves, often presented as declarations, are charged or everyday in nature, and sometimes they are both. Their full power, however, rests in the artist’s means of communication. Holzer employs painted signs, bronze plaques, stone benches, posters, hats, condoms, and LED signs to convey her ideas, offering her content in uniquely humble and democratic ways, the accessible materials in stark contrast to her complex thoughts.
In this exhibit, Holzer’s 1980s plaques will be shown along with her granite benches, displayed in both the interior and exterior spaces of the gallery. Early LED signs, which brought the dazzle of new technology to the work, will also be on view. Their glittering messages and the urgency of their fleeting presentation are quite unlike the enduring, obdurate nature of the inscriptions in stone. The LED medium still resonates for the artist, who will include a new installation that makes use of the latest technology and a sculptural configuration to present declassified documents from the wars in the Middle East.
The possibility for visual art to be composed of language is seen most clearly in the artist’s recent light projections. Holzer’s work has always been with words, their presentation, and how they interact with the environment of exhibition. In the projections, language and site become one and the same. Original text by the artist as well as borrowed text from others have been projected on buildings and landscapes internationally. For the duration of the exhibition at L&M Arts, two projections realized with a technology new to Holzer will activate gallery facades.
Holzer began her training as a painter, only to abandon the medium in favor of the text-based work for which she has become known. The artist’s more recent work, however, marks a triumphant return to paint, while still operating in the service of words or rather, their absence. Her Redaction Paintings are derived from publicly available US government documents. The censor’s marks are unmodified and the large sections of obscured text leave only sentence fragments or single words, echoes of the original content. Holzer, who has built a career on putting words into the world of art, is now making work about their suppression. The blocks of redacted text on the page translate onto linen as chromatic fades and geometric passages. The color and composition can be linked to the work of Suprematist Kazimir Malevich, and Holzer finds common ground with the Constructivist idea of art working for social purposes. Here, perhaps, with the choice of color and the careful rendering of secrets and revelations, Holzer provides optimism for the future, borne from the atrocities and tragedy of the recent past.
For more than thirty years, 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 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.