Jenny Holzer’s work is almost exclusively language based Â much of it single statements – but she has disseminated her art in ways that have reached a larger audience than most of her contemporaries combined. Borrowing from the world of advertising, marketing and merchandizing, there are few commercially available formats that have not been utilized, and emblazoned with her aphoristic phrases. In an effort to reach a larger audience (in particular the passer-by) Holzer tailored her texts to deal with “life issues rather than art issues” and employed a prose style that is gender-neutral and decidedly taciturn. Her text is both familiar and new at the same time, engaging and yet accessible. These text pieces (or “mock-clichÃ©s” as she calls them) were first used on posters, which she plastered around Soho, Manhattan. They evolved into stickers on parking meters and inside telephone booths, and eventually to the LED light signs for which she gained notoriety. Any Surplus is Immoral traces these text works through popular culture via a myriad of multiples. On display are pencils, postcards, note cards, compact disks, screen savers, stickers, posters, rubber stamps, condoms, LED lights, t-shirts, beer mats, golf balls, books, bookplates, baseball hats, drinking glasses.
Jenny Holzer was the first woman to represent the USA at the Venice Biennale. Her work has been shown in international museums and galleries, as inserts in magazines, on MTV and in feature films, on the back of shopping receipts, on LED displays in Times Square and in Las Vegas, engraved on park benches, projected on the sides of buildings and lit up on the Jumbotron at sporting events.
Thanks to all at the Jenny Holzer Studio, to Morey Chaplick and to the National Gallery of Canada.