Artist confronting power for over thirty years
Recent attempts to shift power in the artworld away from its traditional concentrations through the formation of collectives and new networks of distribution have a patron saint in Jenny Holzer. The feminist artist – whose early ‘inflammatory essays’ were fly-posted across New York, who has commissioned billboards, projected slogans onto buildings and used a major newspaper supplement to highlight the wartime abuse of women – has spent four decades pioneering ways to reach audiences beyond the artworld and to effect change within it. In 2018 this took the form of the Anti-Gun Truck, which, adorned with phrases such as ‘Duck and Cover’ and ‘Too Late Now’, toured the US. Her influence was recognised in the adaptation of her ‘truism’ that the ‘Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise’ by pressure group We Are Not Surprised. Whether or not those efforts have long-term impacts, Holzer will continue to offer a model for art as direct action.