‘Maybe Adam Driver Can Help Set Things Right’: Jenny Holzer on Why She Teamed With Amazon to Promote Its New Political Drama
'The Report' focuses on the fight to make public evidence of CIA torture.
Perhaps no artist is more prominently associated with scrutinizing documentary evidence of the War on Terror than Jenny Holzer. For more than ten years, Holzer has made paintings based on redacted documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, spotlighting the black bars that cover still-classified passages as a kind of spooky, politically charged abstract art.
So it makes some sense that Amazon Studios would look to Holzer for some extra prestige publicity for its new film The Report, which hits theaters today, and will be streaming on Amazon Prime starting November 29. Starring Girls and Star Wars actor Adam Driver, the film tracks the events surrounding the 2014 release of the 525-page Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, aka the Torture Report.
Driver plays congressional staffer Daniel J. Jones, who led the investigation into the U.S. government’s secret torture program, in which, perhaps most notoriously, 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded some 183 times. Other actors in the film include Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall, Fajer al-Kaisi, and Maura Tierney. It is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, who has penned screenplays for The Bourne Ultimatum and Contagion, among other films.
So why has Holzer signed on to do what is, in effect, an ad campaign? It comes down to her commitment to the subject matter. “Torture was practiced, normalized. This sad history was and is underreported,” Holzer said to Artnet News in an email. “Maybe Adam Driver can help set things right!”
To promote the release of The Report, a fleet of Holzer-styled trucks, equipped with giant LED screens, are currently circulating around Los Angeles. Each bears texts taken from the film’s script, such as “Fear and shame don’t make for better policy decisions” and “Who is going to clean it up?” Others messages are more economical, blasting spectators with just one word, such as “Illegal” or “Secret.”
Fans will recognized the fragmentary, ominous word art as classic Holzer. She has created LED text works for some thirty years, including at emotionally and politically charged sites like 7 World Trade Center. She also previously deployed LED trucks to broadcast messages calling attention to gun violence, back in March and April 2018.
Amazon’s Jenny Holzer collaboration is just one part of a much broader promotional push for the film: Amazon Studios has paid for cover wraps on major national newspapers like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. You’ll also see animated ads taking over the homepages of some of those same papers, showing black bars appearing over the headlines and texts of mock articles.
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