Protect Protect, a traveling exhibition focusing on Jenny Holzer's work from the mid-1990's to the present, opens to the public today at the Whitney Museum of American Art. First presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in October 2008, the exhibition represents the most comprehensive show of the artist's work in the United States in more than fifteen years. Since Truisms (1977-1979), a list of aphorisms culled from the reading list issued by the Whitney Independent Study Program where she was a student in the late 1970s, Holzer has employed language as a means of declaration, provocation, and protest.
Protect Protect presents a particularly pointed (and markedly political) message through several bodies of work: Her Redaction paintings appropriate declassified materials procured from the nonpartisan, nongovernmental National Security Archive, and from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). When re-classifying documents, the US government censors text by blackening out lines it deems too sensitive, or inappropriate for public perusal. By presenting these redacted texts in their entirety -- including military correspondence, plans from the Iraq war, and autopsy reports from Iraqi detainees -- Holzer alludes to the questionability of the declassificaton process.
Drawing on the same documents, along with thirteen texts written from 1997-2001, Holzer's signature LED signs activate the Whitney's modernist "white cube" galleries with a running commentary on the political maneuvers performed by the government in the months leading up to, and during the Iraq war. Holzer's installation -- which includes Red Yellow Looming (2004), Thorax (2008), and Purple (2008) -- employs fragmentary and at times, conflicting accounts in order to demonstrate the impossibility of a singular, "true" narrative of war. In appropriating and re-contextualizing the language used to plan and execute military maneuvers, Holzer provides a frightening commentary on the ease with which words are manipulated in the name of government transparency. "Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise": Twenty years later, Protect Protect proves just how much truth Holzer's words still hold.
+ Jenny Holzer: Protect Protect [Whitney Museum of American Art]
Currently on view in the group show "Redux" at New York's Cristin Tierney Gallery (through Feb. 4) are two works by Joe Fig, both related to his 200