Jenny Holzer’s Maxims: As Pungent Today as Four Decades Ago

THE DAILY PIC: At Alden Projects, Holzer's early street texts voice anxieties that feel strangely familiar.

THE DAILY PIC (#1732): I don’t usually pick exhibitions that have run their course, but I’m breaking my rule to present these two early works by Jenny Holzer that were on view through yesterday in “REJOICE! OUR TIMES ARE INTOLERABLE: Jenny Holzer’s Street Posters, 1977-1982,” at Alden Projects in New York.

There was a moment in the late ’70s and early ’80s when Holzer’s powerful texts did not only appear in art-world venues, but also got wheat-pasted up on hoardings all over New York. They expressed a moment of fear and dismay and confusion, as the progress of the ’60s got replaced with retrenchment.

Compared to the leap backwards we seem set to take now, those seem like halcyon days. But Holzer’s texts still resonate as an expression of rage and perplexity in the face of a world that just won’t seem to behave. I’d like to see them appear on our hoardings once again. (Both works from the Inflammatory Essays series, published by Jenny Holzer, printed by Millner Bros., New York; courtesy the artist and Alden Projects, New York)

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