JENNY HOLZER "EYE FOR AN EYE - INFLAMMATORY ESSAY" 1982
Jenny Holzer is one of the most important and original artists of the 20th century.
Her body of work, with its emphasis on text, is provocative and occasionally frightening, manipulating the language of folk wisdom, pop culture and government slogan to produce commentary on global issues including power structures, gender struggle, economics, voting and warfare.
Holzer's iconic "Inflammatory Essays", produced between 1979 and 1982, were first pasted on walls throughout heavily populated metro areas including New York and shortly after in other cities. Unsigned and commercially produced, they subverted the conventions of both advertising, graffiti and public art. Each essay was in a different eye-catching color to maximize viewers' attention. It was also helpful when one Essay replaced an older one
The texts were derived from her childhood interest in rapturous writings. Holzer tried to emulate a similar style for her essays, yet borrowed from political theorists (notably Mao, Lenin and Emma Goldman), anarchists and religious fanatics.
The essays shift between multiple viewpoints and do not reflect Holzer’s own, but rather overall themes and styles taken from her inspirations. The essay's tones are declarative, aggressive, urgent, and often menacing.
Each essay contains exactly 100 words in 20 lines of text. The rigidity of this contained format is juxtaposed against the extreme content exploding from the essay. It is worth emphasizing that these texts were frequently pasted on walls alongside or even covering conventional street advertising.
Over the course of Holzer's career, the artist has continued to revisit the content and affect of the "Inflammatory Essays" and as such they are like cornerstone of her practice.
This blush pink Inflammatory Essay espouses the ancient law of eye-for-an eye justice (revenge). The Law of Talion (or Law of Retaliation), developed in early Babylon, set the principle for inflicting criminals with punishments precisely equal to what their victims endured, hence the saying an eye-for-an-eye. Since then, most major religions and societies have incorporated and practiced this ideology at some point. Devoid of any sympathy or consideration for the perpetrator, this Inflammatory Essay exposes and exemplifies the blood-thirst and cycle of hatred/violence eye-for-an-eye retribution can perpetuate.
Though created decades ago, Holzer's texts remain timeless and urgent - and perhaps more relevant than ever given today's sociopolitical environment.
The "Inflammatory Essays" can be found in numerous museum collections including the Tate (London), the Broad (Los Angeles, The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), MACBA (Barcelona), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris) to mention a few.
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"Inflammatory Essay" (from Documenta 1982)
Very good condition
Detailed condition report by request
Note: Essays were photographed in plastic protective sleeves
Literature: "Jenny Holzer" by Diane Waldman 1989, pg. 58-59
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