Jenny Holzer

The artist Jenny Holzer created For SAAM, a column of light and text, for the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

(Continued from page 2)

What kind of feedback are you hoping this installation will produce?

I think, well hope, that the physical characteristics of the piece will be a little surprising. I don't believe that anybody will have seen anything quite like it, although I was in Las Vegas recently and to my horror I saw a lighting fixture rather too similar [laughs]. But it didn't have content! What will distinguish this piece from that lighting fixture is the text that will swirl. I will do a fair amount with the programming so I want to believe that the content as well as its presentation will be worth staying with.

Is there anything that makes For SAAM Smithsonian-specific?

I wanted the piece to fit and to reflect the space. Because [SAAM's] Lincoln Gallery is tall and white, I made something that is attenuated, light and barely there. I wanted the content to be broad and balanced but on a number of tough topics. I thought that right somehow.

How did you decide what text to use?

I wanted to present a survey, as well as an ample amount of text, because this is a permanent piece. I want there to be a good chance, even for people who come often, to see something different each time. I chose the very first series I wrote, The Truisms, because it functions almost as an index of what's to come next. And these first sentences, the one-liners, are written from many points of view on any number of topics. Then I went on to more recent series that are more personal. The text never is purely autobiographical, but it is open.

What do you consider the truest of your Truisms?

"Abuse of power comes as no surprise."


Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus