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Light at the Museum

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s façade covered in light projections as part of exhibition Jenny Holzer: Thing Indescribable on view from March 22 to September 9, 2019.

by Sukanya Garg May 23, 2019

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Jenny Holzer: Thing Indescribable, a survey of work by one of the most outstanding artists of our time. The exhibition has been curated by Petra Joos, curator of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Sponsored by the Fundación BBVA, this exhibition features new works, including a series of light projections on the facade of the museum, which can be viewed each night from March 21 to March 30.

Jenny Holzer, Memorial Bench II- Eye cut by flying glass, 1996 (detail), Text- Erlauf, 1995, Courtesy Jenny Holzer © 2019 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / VEGAP Photo Credit: Erik Sumption

Holzer’s work has been part of the museum’s fabric since its beginnings, in the form of the imposing Installation for Bilbao (1997). Installed in the atrium, the work—commissioned for the museum’s opening—is made up of nine luminous columns, each more than 12 meters high. Since last year, this site-specific work has been complemented by Arno Pair (2010), a set of engraved stone benches gifted to the museum by the artist.

Jenny Holzer, Lustmord Table, 1994 (detail), Courtesy Spru?th Magers, © 2019 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / VEGAP Photo Credit: Ken Adlard

The reflections, ideas, arguments, and sorrows that Holzer has articulated over a career of more than 40 years will be presented in a variety of distinct installations, each with an evocative social dimension. Her medium—whether emblazoned on a T-shirt, a plaque, a painting, or an LED sign—is language. Distributing text in public space is an integral aspect of her work, starting in the 1970s with posters covertly pasted throughout New York City and continuing in her more recent light projections onto landscape and architecture.

Portrait of Jenny Holzer Photo Credit: Nanda LanFranc

Visitors to this exhibition will experience the evolving scope of the artist’s practice, which addresses the fundamental themes of human existence—including power, violence, belief, memory, love, sex, and killing. Her art speaks to a broad and ever-changing public through unflinching, concise, and incisive language. Holzer’s aim is to engage the viewer by creating evocative spaces that invite a reaction, a thought, or the taking of a stand, leaving the sometimes anonymous artist in the background.

The exhibition will be on view from March 22 to September 9, 2019 at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Masters degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions.

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