inflammatory essays

Jenny Holzer

I was maybe 16 when I encountered Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays, in the form of a postcard which somehow made its way into my small-town life. And no, I wasn’t appreciating it ironically; I was there for the righteous fury. Different circumstances might have channeled it into a punk band or a political cause, but I got Holzer.

Holzer’s work is oddly underrepresented on the internet. So, potted history: she got going in the late 70s, posting slogans (“truisms”) and rants (“inflammatory essays”) on walls around New York. As she became accepted by the art world, the paste-ups were replaced by immense LED displays, scrolling her text across Times Square, JFK Airport, and the Guggenheim.

Perhaps its that art-world history that stops her utterly meme-worthy work being omnipresent online. Or perhaps she’s just very active with her takedown notices. But one way or another, you have to look pretty hard to encounter her on the internet.

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