Jenny Holzer 22/11/18 Tate Modern


In the artist rooms of Jenny Holzer was full of massages that she wanted to convey via digital marquee message board, metal plates, stone benches, paintings and posters.

There was a digital marquee light board that was showing tones of sentences without stopping before entering the first room. Her artwork question us to think about the messages and words surround us carefully. “LIVE SIMPLY YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY”, “MOSTLY YOU SHOULD MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” and “LISTEN WHEN YOUR BODY TALKS” are some of the lines that I found it impressive. There were also some critical and harsh messages like “PEOPLE ARE NUTS IF THEY THINK THEY’RE IMPORTANT” as well.

In the second room, there were five benches with poems on it, a long electronic sign hanging from the celling, some metal plats on the wall and a poster full of sentences. The poems were about World War 2, written by a nurse who has experience working as a nurse during that time. I felt the reason why she chosen marble as her outcome was because it is common to use as a commemorative theme.

There were more rooms with different styles of her outcome, but the one I liked the most was the first digital marquee one, I sat on a bench right in front of the entrance and tried writing down the running sentences as fast as I could in my sketchbook. Not only the size of the text, but also the speed of it was different, hence I felt like the artist herself was talking to me in different volume and speed although there was no audio at all. The texts that appeared on the light board were strong, straight and easy to understand, the principle must be the same as advertisement. Watching people passing by was also interesting. Some students from middle school, primary school, tourists from Japan or other European countries, families with kids and young couples. Human observation is interesting and I felt I could sit there for another few hours doing nothing but just watch people passing by.  Some of them were watching me writing down the messages from the light board in a messy handwriting as well.

The caption of Jenny Holzer was an American neo-conceptual artist, who delivers words and ideas to public spaces, and I think this did not really change or effect the way I looked at her artwork, so it is a fair label. One of my tutors said that some artists works were labelled as a masterpiece, and he wanted us to try not just simply believe the way that was described. It is fine to have our own perspective and preference.

I liked the way she uses multiple material, a wide variety of outcomes is what I wanted to work on, hence I am happy that I chosen this artist room to focus on. Tate Modern is one of my favourite museums in London, and I have been here for several times but never found it boring. There are always something new happening.

By the way, I found the swings outside the building were all gone. I wonder why they decided to take away the swings…