For over forty years, Jenny Holzer, one of the best known exponents of Conceptual Art, has been working on writing to explore the effects words can have on each of us if they stand in the way of our repeated perception of spaces and situations in an unusual and disruptive way.
Her messages, with political and social connotations on themes ranging from war to feminism and the great dramas of our contemporary world, are conveyed through unconventional media, channels and spaces, in a series of projects which, with the precise intention of reaching the widest possible audience and awakening our critical conscience through displacement or serial repetition, often rise to the dimension of public art.
From one series to the next, and using procedures that are sometimes close to guerrilla marketing, Holzer, in a continuous investigation of language and its mechanisms of diffusion and perception, has printed her messages on flyers, posters and the most varied everyday objects; she has composed them in metal letters or engraved them in stone or in neon installations; she has created, on a more monumental scale, text compositions on scoreboards, advertising signs, enormous LED panels and projections on building facades.
However, the artist also uses more traditional techniques such as painting, as is the case with the Living series (1980-82), to which this work belongs. Short texts are painted on metal supports to give them an anonymous and authoritative institutional appearance: thus, this sign, with its simple assertiveness, characteristic of a caption, imposes itself in our placid everyday life to remind us that, all around us, there is always something that can subvert our apparent tranquillity.
The work was donated by the artist to the Uffizi Gallery in 2010.