A Programmer's Perspective on Art

Jenny Holzer


Jenny Holzer’s work focuses on the use of text in photos. She was born in 1950 in Gallipolis Ohio.  She received her education from many schools: Ohio University, Rhode Island School of Design, and also participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  She was a member of a group named Colab – short for Collaborative Projects which was a New York City artists’ group formed in 1977.

Text is a critical part of her pieces. In her Projections project she uses text and projects it onto a building, or reflects it in water to create a dynamic photo. I also noticed that the text, when strung together for each city, formed a poem. The project’s duration is over more than ten years, took place in three continents and in more than ten countries, including: Italy, Spain, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, England, the United States, Austria and Ireland.  Now THAT is dedication.

I really liked this artist. She used the landscape and thoughtfully chose the text to display to create great photos. I’m not sure if the poems in her photos are ones she wrote herself, however I think that they are because I couldn’t find them published – every hit I got when I searched for it was referencing her work. My favorite piece was the Florence – 1996 city projection piece. That piece interested me not only because I was living in Italy at the time she photographed it but also because it engaged me. I had fun translating part of the text, discovering it was a poem, and then trying to excavate where it was from and who wrote it. I roughly translated it to:

You are my own

I’m losing ground

I lie

I can not stand

I am losing time


I smell you on my skin

Breathe your breath

I cover you

I am crying hard

There was blood

No one told me

No one Knew

My mother knows

There was blood

No one told me

No one knew

However, I found the full version on someone’s blog – http://www.ricksteves.com/jackiesteves/index.cfm?fuseaction=entry&entryID=18. The blogger stated that she had found the poem on a bench while visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of Modern art. The benches are very beautifully engraved with verses from the poem. Jenny Holzer obviously put a lot of thought and effort into her pieces and it shows – she is a master at her craft.




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