Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment

From 19-23 March, giant letters 4.5 m high were projected across the facade of the Liverpool Tate, writes Elizabeth Jackson.

Although not conceived specifically for Liverpool, these projections are the latest evidence of American artist Jenny Holzer's continuing interaction with the world of media, signage, and silent politics.

Prescient of the current conflict in Iraq, some of her Truisms (1977-79) are now brutally immediate: 'Killing is unavoidable but nothing to be proud of.' Another fractured text, Mother and Child (1990), reads: 'I am afraid of the ones in power who kill people and do not admit grief.'

Holzer is known for creating work that draws upon techniques used by advertisers to present a particular message, and this projection was designed to complement the Liverpool Tate's concurrent exhibition, 'Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture'.

Displaying her work outside, rather than inside the gallery, Holzer questions the viewer's understanding not only of 'exhibition'but also of the very building onto which the text is projected, both in terms of the structure's surface and the sense of the space it creates. The letters appeared to hang a short distance in front of the facade, as if on a gauze curtain rising out of the dark water, eventually to disappear above the building's parapet.

Printed in negative on 185 mm film, the text is loaded in cartridges into the Xenon projector powered by a 6,000 watt HMI bulb, creating a multi-wave light bright enough to produce, through the 330 mm lens, a crisp image 100 m distant. Projectionist Charlie Passarelli admitted ambient light from the gallery and the restaurants surrounding Albert Dock reduced the intensity of the images; but, as Holzer would say, 'you are a victim of the rules you live by'.

Elizabeth Jackson is a Masters student at Edinburgh University

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.