DODDOACID 008769, 2007, oil on linen, 102.25 x 79 in. (259.7 x 200.7 cm.) Copyright: 2008 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ DACS, United Kingdom
LONDON.-Monika Sprueth Philomene Magers presents DETAINED, an installation by Jenny Holzer. Beginning with her 2004 exhibition at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, Holzer has made the study of declassified US government documents the content for her context-based practice. Incorporating memos, sworn statements, emails, directives, judgments, and other government materials regarding the situation in the Middle East into paintings, large scale light projections, and electronic signs, Holzer has harnessed a variety of approaches to make sensate the accounting of war and torture. From documentation to material and situational renderings of bureaucracy's operations, Holzer's presentations of, among others, Department of Defense, White House, CIA, and FBI documents commingle the need to "get the word out" with the urgency to translate those words to a physical register. By activating the senses of the viewer, Holzer recasts the anonymity and indirection of government and a dministrative language as affecting and wounding objects. Holzer makes material Hannah Arendt's claim that, "Nothing we use or hear or touch can be expressed in words that equal what we are given by the senses."
In DETAINED, Holzer exhibits new works including a series of paintings and a large LED configuration. Each oil on linen painting depicts a handprint of an American soldier accused of crimes in Iraq, including detainee abuse and assault. Culled from documents made public through the Freedom of Information Act, Holzer's paintings refuse to be read from the fixity of any one ideology. Hanging the hands of the charged next to those of the wrongly accused and those whose culpability has been lost, the artist represents the fog of war. In her LED artwork, Holzer stacks ten semi-circular signs to animate the front gallery wall. The piece, entitled Torso, displays in red, blue, white, and purple light the statements, investigation reports, and emails from the case files of the accused soldiers. Providing these voices, part damning, contradictory, sympathetic, banal, anecdotal, and evidentiary, Holzer layers accounts of abuse and blame. The installation lays bare that it is the indivi dual who suffers and confronts the mechanics of politics and war. DETAINED makes substantial Wislawa Szymborska's lament and statement in her poem "Tortures" that "the body is and is and is and has nowhere
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