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Jenny Holzer writes in light on facade of L&M Arts

September 13, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • Jenny Holzer did a light projection on the Venice gallery L&M Arts as part of her new show.
Jenny Holzer did a light projection on the Venice gallery L&M Arts as… (Joshua White )

According to artist Jenny Holzer, who is in town this week for the opening of her show at L&M Arts, boredom has a way of just not letting up.

"BOREDOM MAKES YOU DO CRAZY THINGS," reads a line projected at night on a gallery facade. The line was programmed to alternate randomly with three other sayings, known in the artist's lingo as truisms. "It is supposed to be random," Holzer said during a visit to the site. "But last night boredom kept coming back."

Holzer said she has not had a gallery show in L.A. "in like a thousand years." That figure may be rounded up (I came up with 24 years), but she has a point:  While getting major play in shows in New York, Paris, London and other European cities, work by the New York-based artist has been far less visible here.

So when Sarah Watson of L&M Arts in Venice began talking to her about doing a show, she asked Holzer about exhibiting a range of work. In the end they included some early LED signs featuring truisms, a series of four granite benches engraved with troubling observations and a selection of recent so-called "redaction" paintings that make use of declassified government documents, like a CIA memo regarding interrogation techniques. (There is also an odd, sequestered installation of a dark, raw-looking redaction painting, set in a back gallery corner that itself seems unfinished.)

 "It was an interesting challenge for me to see if I could relate the new work and the old, if the pieces of the puzzle fit together," said Holzer. "Then you see there's death and mayhem in everything."

Watson also encouraged Holzer to use the grounds outside the galleries -- a pair of buildings designed by Kulapat Yantrasast -- and suggested she try a Gobo projector, smaller than her usual machines, for working on the exterior walls.

The projection on the east building has the saying about boredom as well as "MONEY CREATES TASTE," "ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED" and "EXPIRING FOR LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL BUT STUPID."

Unlike most Holzer projections, these truisms have a sort of compressed, child-like energy: They assume different forms like circles or puddles and they sometimes flash or dance across the facade. To make sure they are legible from Venice Boulevard nearby, Holzer said she did not do a test drive: "I did a test stagger, walking up and down Venice."

Best way to see this work, on foot or car: Head west on Venice Boulevard from Lincoln toward Abbot Kinney or look over your shoulder or in your rear view mirror while heading east on the same stretch. The show, "Jenny Holzer: The Future Please," opens Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.

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