I first saw Jenny Holzer’s LED (light emitting diodes) work in Berlin. Today, you can view her thought-provoking installations at DHC,a city-block long, multidisciplinary art space in Old Montreal. People refer to DHC as ‘Montreal’s other contemporary art museum’, a nod to the quality of the gallery’s exhibitions, which have featured such internationally renowned artists as Mark Quinn and Sophie Calle.
Jenny Holzer uses text to examine today’s world: politics and power; war and more war, and yes, man’s inhumanity to man. She brings a formal, and formalized poetry to a harsh political reality. ‘’I present what’s there’’.
She spent endless days researching documents made available under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (1966) which allows ‘full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States Government’. The important phrase to remember here is ‘full or partial’. Holzer shows us some documents exactly as she found them: much is blacked out. One work/document – Waterboard – is entirely black. In Thorax an incident is recounted by different participants’ words. Each person has a different view of what happened. Their words are shown as long, lean serpents of text in brightly coloured LED lights. The sense of horror is balanced by the bright lights of Broadway. But as one stands mesmerized by the blinking neon – we get the message.
Phase II, Shape the Battlespace, shows a Power Point army presentation delineating attack zones: Holzer has coloured it in bruised hues. Ribs curls out of the wall like, well, ribs. Each arch has letters ratcheting along brilliantly- you stop to read the lines. Step out of the main DHC building and go next door. There, For Chicago 9 (our top of post picture), is the must-see part of the show. Row upon row of lettering lies flat on the floor of a large room. Parallel lines of pulsing light push words to the viewer. A brilliant combination of our military/commercial/entertainment-driven world, all done up in lights.
DHC, 451 St. Jean, Old Montreal. 514-849-3742
Monday – Friday 12 – 7 pm
Saturday & Sunday 11 – 6 pm
June 30, 2010 – November 14, 2010
Stay in the area. Two chic-and-fun restos:
Buonaparte, 443 Saint François-Xavier 514-844-4368
L’Orignal, 479 Saint Alexis (FABULOUS ambiance music!), 514-303-0479