Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to present recent works by New York Artist Jenny Holzer at their Munich Gallery.
In her latest works, Jenny Holzer negotiates the political landscape after 9/11 and traces the debate over covert operations, prisoner abuse, and war tragedies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay through the directives, emails, and testimonies of policy makers, soldiers, and prisoners. In her "Redaction Paintings" Holzer shows sensitive governmental and military documents, released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Not originally intended for the public, many of these documents were heavily redacted by the United States Government prior to their release. Without subscribing to any particular ideology, Holzer presents text as material in her paintings, evoking a certain curiosity about the actual meaning of the words on the page, which, in their original context, are typically overlooked due to the continuous flow of information we encounter daily.
The Formica Report series consists of 16 works in oil on linen (14 of these paintings are on view). They are enlarged reproductions of the over 600 pages of Annexes to the Formica Report, many of which detail abuse of detainees in Iraq. The Formica Annex was issued in 2004 and released - heavily redacted - by the Pentagon in 2006. In this series, every letter of the original text has been blacked out by censorship. The resulting markings render the page a nearly abstract image.
Highly enlarged bodies of text in oil on linen are on view in another room, including the triptychs AT THE MIDTOWN MASSACRE, JAW BROKEN and GLOVES OFF in addition to a single panel titled WISH LIST (all 2006). These works feature pages of reports that provide accounts of war and prisoner abuse from the perspective of military officials, soldiers and prisoners.
The final room features a series of silhouettes of United States soldiers who have been accused of military misconduct. The images are redacted in such a way that the portraits appear as impersonal black silhouettes. Also featured in this room is a series of autopsies detailing the circumstances surrounding the death of prisoners while in U.S. custody.
For more than twenty-five years, Jenny Holzer, born in 1950 in Ohio, USA, has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, the Reichstag and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. Her medium, whether formulated as a t-shirt, as a plaque, or as an LED sign, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. Starting in the late 1970s with the New York City posters, and up to her recent light projections on landscape and architecture and her new series of paintings featuring US Government documents, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and moral courage.
The works on display in "SECRET" follow a thread began by Holzer in 2004, with a piece she created for Wired magazine, and continued at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria with her solo show, TRUTH BEFORE POWER, in which she dealt with the issue of balancing transparency and security within a democratic government. Shortly thereafter, just prior to the United States' 2004 presidential election, Holzer projected declassified and other government documents onto the Gelman Library at George Washington University. In 2005, she realized a similar document projection on the façade of New York University's Bobst Liberary at La Guardia Square, which explored the political situation of the U.S. in the Middle East.
In Munich, Jenny Holzer's permanent installation Oskar Maria Graf Memorial, can be seen at the Kaffeehaus in the Literaturhaus.
Monika Spruth Philomene Magers
Schellingstrasse 48 - Munich