press release

A spectacular light work by established American artist Jenny Holzer projected onto the façade of the Santa Maria della Scala. The work is visible everyday Tuesday to Sunday from sunset to midnight. No entrance fee is charged to experience this public commission

sms contemporanea – the contemporary art centre of the Santa Maria della Scala museum hub in Siena – proudly announces a new project by American artist Jenny Holzer specifically conceived for the façade of the ancient Sienese hospital and curated by Lorenzo Fusi.

An imposing and inviting light projection will play on the exterior of the building, lending a skin of words that touch on how society is shaped to the place and architecture.

Holzer’s short and poignant statements, magnified by the projector, will scroll up the front of Santa Maria della Scala as if they were the closing credits of a film. Holzer’s work invites us to analyze and reflect upon the presumptions and preconceptions that shape culture and politics. The artist’s disarming use of language investigates how genders, the individual and society, political power and free will, and the public and private spheres function and relate to one another.

This new commission intersects with a series of important and diverse installations of Holzer’s work: a light projection created for the Guggenheim Museum in New York that has entered its permanent collection, as well as an extensive exhibition of works from the early 1990s to the present day co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Fondation Beyeler.

Holzer’s emotional and visceral intervention in Siena will partner with the customary beauty of the Cathedral to re-imagine how the Duomo square is passed through, lived in, read, and understood. The passerby will be attracted by the richness of the church and its art in the daytime and by the gigantic lettering that moves along the brick walls of the former hospital at night.

Jenny Holzer, who won the Golden Lion at the 1990 Venice Biennial, has incorporated text and language into her media-spanning practice since the late 1970s. Her first light projection dates to 1996 and was the debut of her text Arno, named for the Florentine river where the installation was first staged. Since then, she has been invited to present her light projections at numerous cities and locations around the world, including the Spanish Steps in Rome, the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, and Rockefeller Center in New York. Holzer’s presence in Tuscany represents a return to the country where she first used this medium and her work intelligently interacts with a historically and symbolically charged site, the space shared by the ancient Santa Maria della Scala hospital and the Sienese Cathedral.

The installation is created by running 185mm film through a light projector equipped with a powerful bulb. This format (much larger than the 35mm normally used for motion pictures) permits the text to remain sharp at a relatively large size and transforms each projected letter into a monumental element uniquely scaled to its surrounds. Holzer’s luminous writing ultimately becomes an architectural device, an ephemeral structure, which highlights meaning in the eye of the observer.

only in german

Jenny Holzer
For Siena

Kurator: Lorenzo Fusi