Jenny Holzer: Light Stream

American artist Jenny Holzer will present Light Stream, a major exhibition of new and vintage work in her first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, at Pearl Lam Galleries, which will open on 18 September, 2013. For this exhibition, Holzer draws upon her text series Truisms (1977–79), Living (1980–82), and Survival (1983–85), presenting Truisms and Survival for the first time in Chinese.

Jenny Holzer is one of the most respected contemporary artists working today, best known for large-scale public projections of text. Influenced by literature, society, and politics, her work explores notions of transparency, sexuality, morality, and power. Her texts take the form of declarations, quotes, and statements from many points of view, often inhabiting complex and controversial subject matter.

For Light Stream, Holzer selected phrases from Truisms, Living, and Survival to present on electronic signs and on stone benches. Truisms comprises over 250 single sentence declarations written by Holzer at the beginning of her career and crafted to resemble existing aphorisms. Originally printed on posters and anonymously pasted on buildings and walls across New York City in the 1970s,Truisms was Holzer’s first body of text. Living references everyday, visceral topics, such as the body and personal relationships, to evoke notions of vulnerability within a fast-paced modern environment and the individual grappling with life-altering decisions. Survival, the first text series written specifically for electronic signs, is a cautionary series where each sentence instructs, informs, or questions in a more urgent tone.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is Holzer’s largest LED gallery work to date, which comprises over 25 LED elements. Light Stream (2013), also the title of the exhibition, was born of Holzer’s long-time desire to produce a swarming mass of texts in one work, and is realised for the first time with Pearl Lam Galleries. Using selections from all three series, the result is a pulsating, flashing heap of text with statements layered and wrapped around one another in frenetic light and colour. Chinese and English texts appear alongside each other, reflecting and encouraging dialogue within the exhibition.

Describing the work, Jenny Holzer explains, “Though I rely on minimalist configurations, for decades I have wanted to offer a massive, irrational, unpredictable heap of glittering displays. I am happy about the paradox—what appears wild, chaotic, and spontaneous is a greater technical puzzle and a more difficult challenge to realise. Pearl Lam Galleries and years of building precisely configured LED signs have made this new electronic wilderness possible.”

Holzer’s LED works are individually programmed to pulse at specific rates. By throwing light and colour, the LED pieces map the darkened gallery space. Alongside the LED works, Holzer will present a selection of white marble benches, which are the first works she has produced in Chinese. With their connotations of monuments or Classical sculpture, the solid and memorial form of the marble works offers a dramatic contrast to the LEDs. Short statements such as “MONEY CREATES TASTE” and “DON’T PLACE TOO MUCH TRUST IN EXPERTS,” chosen for their particular resonance and impact, are carved in Chinese into the bench seats.

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