Jenny Holzer Illuminates New York Botanical Garden With Political Projection

Jenny Holzer, projection for
Jenny Holzer, projection for "Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life." Text from "Motion" by Octavio Paz. Photo: Jenny Holzer, courtesy Artists Rights Society.

For only four nights this June, Frida Kahlo‘s New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) exhibition will light up with a new projection from artist Jenny Holzer (see Jenny Holzer Designs New York’s First AIDS Memorial).

The exhibition has already transformed the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a verdant facsimile of Kahlo’s blue-walled courtyard garden and artist’s studio (see Frida Kahlo’s Vision Comes to Life at New York Botanical Garden and Take a Virtual Trip Through Frida Kahlo’s Garden). From June 10-13, the building will become a canvas, with Holzer projecting her signature scrolling text messages across its iconic dome.

Featuring passages from Kahlo’s diaries as well as verses from Mexican poets such as Octavio Paz, Holzer’s piece illuminates one of the existing components of the Kahlo exhibition: the Octavio Paz Poetry Walk.

Located in the gardens just outside the Conservatory, the poetry walk is presented with the Poetry Society of America, who will also feature Holzer’s projections at their annual benefit, on June 9.

“Frida Kahlo” Art, Garden, Life” at the New York Botanical Garden. Photo: the New York Botanical Garden.

“Frida Kahlo” Art, Garden, Life” at the New York Botanical Garden.
Photo: the New York Botanical Garden.

In 1990, Holzer represented the United States at the Venice Biennale; she received the Golden Lion for her work. When word got out that Holzer was chosen, Michael Brenson wrote in a 1988 article in the New York Times, “With her inclusiveness and her vernacular materials and language, Holzer embodies an American ideal of democracy.”

Many artists have been influenced by Holzer’s work, including the Illuminator art collective, which used the façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim to project messages protesting police brutality, corporate greed, and other issues (see Guggenheim Museum’s Façade Occupied by Protesters’ Projection and Illuminator Art Collective Arrested for Daring Museum Protest Sues NYPD).

"Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life" at the New York Botanical Garden. Photo: Sarah Cascone.

“Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” at the New York Botanical Garden.
Photo: Sarah Cascone.

Weather permitting, the NYBG piece will begin each night at dusk and run through 10:00 p.m. as part of the exhibition’s special Frida al Fresco evenings.

Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” will be on view at the New York Botanical Garden May 16–November 1, 2015, and the Jenny Holzer projections will take place June 10–13, 2015.


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