Jenny Holzer is an American conceptual artist, she is known for her large scale public displays on billboard advertisements, projections onto buildings and other architectural structures and illuminated electronic displays. Like many conceptual artists, she uses language in her work. A work that I found particularly powerful was ‘Protect me from what I want’ (pictured below). The artists uses a wide array of media such as LED Signs, bronze plaques, painted signs, stone benches and footstools, stickers, t-shirts, paintings, photographs, sound, video, the internet and of course projection.
Jenny Holzer – Protect me from what I want
I think Jenny Holzers work is quite simplistic but very powerful, the words ‘protect me from what I want’ speak out to me. For me, it highlights capital and the idea that we all feel that becoming a consumer – buying things, is something that we ‘want’ to do or even need to do. With the influence of big companys and clever advertising making us believe that we want to buy things that maybe we don’t even need in order to be perceived a certain way or to make ourselves feel good. We are all human and unfortunately fall victim to the tactics of big companys that want us to spend our money so they can make money. I want to send a similar message to my audience, I want people to question their actions when looking at my work, I want them to feel a overpowering feeling that we are being encouraged, almost controlled into become a part of capital. We are all, of course, part of capital whether we like it or not, however, I want people to become concious or activated as Bertolt Brecht would say when spending their money.
I like that Jenny Holzer works with a variety of mediums, something that I want to do myself. I want to work with projection and language will be something I work with greatly. Above is a image of Jenny Holzers work, ‘Stupid People Shouldn’t Breed’ printed onto a cup. A product that I am very intrigued about is coffee. I worked in a coffee shop for 5 years, so I think this has something to do with my interest. There has been a massive boom in the sale of coffee, it has become something quite cool, sophisicated and I think, proffessional. You meet with friends or colleagues and have a coffee. You get a coffee before you get onto your train to go to work. You get a coffee to keep you going through your day, it automatically creates the impression you are staying awake because you have things to do. I love coffee myself and the cafe I worked in was a independent coffee shop. What I don’t love is that everyone is buying coffee and not even thinking twice about where it has came from, people are being exploited for coffee, including ourselves as big companys like Starbucks don’t pay any tax yet Starbucks is one of the most popular coffee shops!
I am going to use coffee cups and print language onto them, possibly ‘when did drinking coffee become so cool?’. I want to make people think about the coffee they’re drinking, where did their coffee come from? and where is the money you’re paying for it going? The coffee cups I will print on are going to be used by the cafe at Birmingham City University’s Student Union at both City North and City South. This for me, is a very interesting place to have the cups in use as all the money spend within the student union goes back into the union as it is a non-profit organisation. The coffee as well as other products they sell are either organic or fairtrade and the coffee cups theirself are recyclable and compostable. The cups, I hope, will make people think about where their money is going and then think twice about going to starbucks next time their meeting up with friends in a coffee shop.