Mixed Media Artist Jenny Holzer Speaks to Me From the 90’s
Neon letter boxes infect Times Square Holzer was obsessed with sex and war I wish I could have seen your prophetic billboards above strip clubs, Jenny: Abuse of power comes as no surprise -- The contrast of pixelated dots Hung over pasties in display windows, rat bodies gleam like slaps. Her signs loomed over saliva splattered concrete. Always blockade, always the same font, (She would never use “Freestyle Script.”) She inhabits disembodied words. Lines hang in the air two inches from ghost mouths. Which came first -- the words or the mouth? I am angry with you, Jenny. All I wanted was to see your pretty pink mouth forming these words: men cannot protect you anymore In the Field museum At that Biennale in Venice At the Guggenheim. I don’t even know myself anymore. I thought I was bright and elucidated brightness. When I read your words I know I am still searching for myself. Jenny posts Your awful language is in the air by my head I am on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, pushing bodies like pencils, no words in sight.
Jenny Holzer says all wars start as a secret. She inks models’ skin with letters, sentences My eyes are sore from moving against your palm Some phrases carry a hint of threat Of women squatting Of being taken She makes me want to slam the book shut take a shower, get a haircut. Self-awareness can be crippling. The information age blew our brains open. Terrorists stream live video, machete all the words. In the desert it takes longer to find a dictionary, longer still to locate synapse centers, palm a sound, hold it in your throat swish it around claim one last guttural noose. War is a purification rite. There are no emoticons in dictatorships, Jenny. Pandas eating jellybeans, cherry cola bottle, kitty holding heart, to ease all of that genocide. The air turns smelly. A dead rat trapped under the fridge word. A rotten chicken breast word. A cacophonic fly swarm word. A dog rolling in its own vomit word. You are trapped in these words so you will explode.