neo conceptual art

On View at the AMAM: Perhaps Jenny Holzer’s most accessible work, the Living Series focuses on life and the human condition. This emphasis on subject matter related to everyday life reflected Holzer’s belief that “if you want to reach a general audience, it’s not art issues that are going to compel them to stop on the way to lunch, it has to be life issues.”  In the Living Series, Holzer focuses on building suspenseful narratives more than on perfecting brief biting statements.  Holzer explains, “for the Living Series, I went to a moderate voice and temperate language because I thought this would match the subject: everyday events that just happened to have some kink in them. The writing described these events and then offered an absurdity or some sociopolitical observation.”

Holzer’s use of conceptual dichotomies in the Living Series enabled her to call mass culture and its messages into question. For instance, we associate plaques with official statements, yet the text of the Living Series does not demand much authority at all. She juxtaposes the durability of a bronze sign with descriptions of fleeting moments and the fragility of life. While plaques often commemorate events or people, the statements on the Living Series plaques often express regret or a wish to forget, while in the case of the work at the AMAM, the plaque does not commemorate the past but rather predicts an unsettling future.

Image:
Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950) and Peter Nadin(English, b. 1954)
Untitled, from the Living Series, 1982
Cast bronze with dark brown patination
Friends of Art Endowment Fund, 1982.100