Jenny Holzer; Sophisticated Devices
Sprueth Magers London
June 1 - August 18th, 2012
Someone wants to cut a hole in you and fuck you through it, buddy.
Damn. Now that's the sort of sentiment to be commemorated in the form of a cast plaque.
I am not free because I can be exploded at anytime.
Another trueism, this one with a bit of carpe diem sprinkled on top for good measure – perhaps the perfect phrase for the temporal feel of a spray paint canvas.
With Sophisticated Devices, a solo show at Sprueth Magers' London gallery, American artist Jenny Holzer takes a zeitgeist-y journey to the center of personal fear and paranoia with a survey of her practice which encompasses spray paint canvases, granite benches, LED works, painted signs and cast plaques.
The sparingly simple show (only ten or so pieces) confronts viewers' emotions and experiences and plops horrible, devastating and downright frightful considerations into the otherwise ordinary or honorary – all with a sense of irony worth a look-see by any audience of wry Londoners.
Holzer's large spray paint canvases are the result of collaborations with New York graffiti artists Lady Pink and A-One and feature text from Survival, Holzer's “series of cautionary texts” from the mid 1980s, in which each sentence instructs, informs or questions the ways an individual responds to his or her social, physical, psychological and personal environment.
Perhaps these few canvas collabs in the show are its most effective pieces. Whereas her plaques and benches offer a wallop of contemplative whoa, they nonetheless soon yield “been there/done that” smirks with their wonky context. As for her LED streaming text works, these merely offer a practice in patience too easily shrugged off in today's digital reality. But the Holzer and friends' eerie spray painted scenes of green zombie-like victims of ambigous malfeasance, they haunt and alarm and insist viewers to remember their mortality.
Chris Osburn is an American transplant living in London where he has a blast working as a freelance photographer, writer, consultant, blogger and more. www.tikichris.com