In honor of World AIDS Day, renowned conceptual artist Jenny Holzer will release a mobile exhibition that will shine a light on the history and current impact of the AIDS epidemic. This December 1, a fleet of five, pitch black trucks featuring LED signs will embark on a journey around the city, showcasing quotes by poets, artists, educators, activists, and people living with HIV and AIDS. The installation, #LightTheFight, is curated by Holzer in partnership with the NYC AIDS Memorial, a project she completed in 2016 that features a series of granite paving stones engraved with Walt Whitman’s 1855 poem Song of Myself. Studio AI designed a white, angular pavilion to house the memorial. The roving billboard project, another text-based artwork by Holzer, signals the launch of the memorial’s Arts and Education Initiative which will bring immersive programming to the city. “It’s crucial to maintain awareness that the AIDS epidemic is live, in New York and around the world,” said Holzer in a statement. “The messages on the trucks’ screens, contributed by feeling people, could comfort those affected by AIDS and reignite fires in bellies to end AIDS forever.” After an interactive ceremony and performance at the memorial site, the trucks will drive up and down Manhattan, animating the special words in black and white with an occasional burst of color to stress the messages on screen. Holzer told The New York Times that the texts will feature a variety of sentiments from tenderness to grief. Throughout the night, the trucks will make pit stops at historically significant locations and sites such as the LGBT Community Center, Times Square, Hudson River Piers near Christopher Street, and the Meatpacking District. At each location, signature condoms designed by Ms. Holzer will be distributed along with educational material on HIV, AIDS, and LGBT rights. #LightTheFight isn’t the first motor vehicle-based installation Holzer has created. IT IS GUNS debuted earlier this year in New York and Washington, D.C., in protest of gun violence. Leading up to the midterm elections this week, Holzer put together a series of tourist buses in Los Angeles, encouraging people to vote. Learn more about #LightTheFight here.
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James Turrell rooms, a 15-ton Louise Bourgeois sculpture, and many site-specific works feature in MASS MoCA expansion
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is about to become the largest museum of contemporary art in America. Sitting at the heart of downtown North Adams, the sprawling museum inhabits a hodgepodge of 26 structures, all former 19th-century factory buildings, and the largest of which has just completed renovation. When it opens, Building 6 will add 150,000 square feet to the museum’s already impressive capacity, almost doubling it in size. The building boasts almost an acre per floor plate and is wedged at the convergence of the Hoosic River, making it an odd triangular shape. The point of the triangle marks the end of the museum and is highlighted with a newly-created double-height wall of west-facing windows looking out at the surrounding mountains. With such a large amount of ground to cover, the design team at Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Bruner/Cott & Associates decided to treat the space as a landscape, with artist-dedicated rooms and two-story volumes punctuating the relentlessly horizontal space, according to lead designer and Principal Jason Forney. Altogether, Building 6 brings MASS MoCA’s total gallery square footage to 250,000 square feet, of which 40,000 square feet of space is dedicated to the performing arts. (Performing arts makes up about 50 percent of the museum’s programming.) With new event spaces and an expanded back-of-house in Building 6, the museum is now more equipped to cater to their summer music festival crowds and provide artists with more workshop space to realize their art. As the latest addition comes together, teams of fabricators and curators are working to realize some of the complex site-specific works that will soon call MASS MoCA home. In the exhibit of works by James Turrell, whose pieces require large volumes of space, a team of nineteen people has been working since December. Because Turrell uses light and color fields, it was important for him to provide visitors with moments of visual quiet to help their eyes adjust between the different atmospheres, which he was able to coordinate with the design team. Where Turrell required volume and circulation, MASS MoCA's new Louise Bourgeois artwork required beefing up the already hardy structure. The museum will host several of her marble sculptures, one of which weighs 15 tons. In order accommodate these pieces, a new concrete structure and steel fillers were added, and a hole was cut into the side of the building to crane the sculptures into place. It may sound like a lot of gymnastics, but as Director Joseph C. Thompson put it, it’s what Mass MoCA was designed to do. It is also what makes MASS MoCA such a unique art-viewing experience. Where most museums are washed in white, painstakingly designed to maximize lighting and minimize distractions, Building 6 is well-worn, dominated by relentless columns and flooded with natural light from its hundreds of windows. It is unmistakably an old mill and yet, somehow, it works. “The buildings, as you can see, are almost painfully beautiful, but they’re tough. They’re rugged, vernacular, raw, American industrial buildings,” said Thompson. “So the work we show here can either stand up to that or it looks beautiful in juxtaposition to that.” The building’s ‘rugged’ and ‘raw’ aesthetic is preserved, but not without a few alterations. Columns were removed where necessary and replaced with “ghosts,” or wooden caps in the floor. New steel columns were placed to bear the burden of their ‘ghosted’ brethren and were painted with white fire-protectant paint, standing in stark contrast to their weathered wooden neighbors. Rather than disguise the alterations to preserve the building’s character, each intrusion was highlighted as a visual index of the building’s new life. “I think you can be too tentative and have too much respect for the old when it doesn’t deserve it,” said Forney. “This building was altered and changed to accommodate whatever operation it had going so we started to see this as just a continuation of all the changes that had happened over time. It was about preserving this living museum instead of preserving each wall or each window.” The new space promises to be an intriguing precedent for future museums and, if nothing else, will be a great place to get your steps in walking the almost four miles of galleries. MASS MoCA will open Building 6 on May 28 and will house works from James Turrell, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Gunnar Schonbeck, and many others. For more information about the museum and to visit the new space, visit MASS MoCA’s website here.
MASS MoCA's rambling campus in the former factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts, has been 25 years in the making, and is now entering its third phase of development, starting with the rehabilitation of Building Six, a 120,000-square-foot space that's able to be flexibly programmed to create "Museums within the Museum." A collection of long-term exhibitions, featuring the work of James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, Jenny Holzer, Robert Rauschenberg, and Louise Bourgeois, is driving Bruner/Cott's renovation of the 19th century structure, which will also include rehearsal space and instrument gallery for Gunnar Schonbeck's Bang on a Can as well as a green room, event space, and art storage. The impressive scale of the three-story addition, with its one-acre floor plate, provides ample space to house these micro museums. The floor plans reveal that seven of Turrell's "works in light" will be presented in different nooks on the ground floor, the remaining two will be found on the second level, along with Bourgeois' sculptures and a rotating selection of works by Rauschenberg, which will also occupy space on the third floor, and include his 52-panel, The ¼ mile or 2 Furlong Piece. Dedicated areas for Bang on a Can, Jenny Holzer exhibition space, and Laurie Anderson's studio, gallery, and living archive will all be located on the third floor as well. The renovation will also allow the firm to develop better wayfinding throughout the campus and connectivity to the North Adams downtown business district. Building 6 is slated to be open to the public by 2017. Next up on the agenda is the repurposing of buildings 12 and 26/34 which will be used to exhibit other independent collections. When phase three is complete, MASS MoCA will take the title of largest contemporary art museum in the U.S.