Artist Jenny Holzer's projections on DIA facade to boost the vote

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

A New York City artist best known for using illuminated text to drive political engagement and provoke conversation will project slogans to boost voting on the facade of the Detroit Institute of Arts Thurday-Saturday evenings.

In her activist artwork, Jenny Holzer has employed trucks bearing large LED messages, like the ones that drove around Detroit four evenings earlier in the month, as well as projections onto both buildings and landscapes.

The DIA projections will include a range of statements, including "Talk Up Voting," "Vote for Your Life" and, in a quote from civil-rights activist Ella Baker, "Give People Light and They Will Find a Way."

Jenny Holzer, a NYC artist who uses illuminated blocks of text to drive conversations, will project some of her messages on the DIA Thurs.-Sat. evenings to encourage voting.

The projections on the DIA's Woodward facade, said Deputy Director Judith Dolkart,  "are meant to be nonpartisan. There’s a lot of common purpose in what the artist is calling for."

The You Vote campaign Holzer is promoting has an earnest tone that's at odds with much of her regular artistic practice, which often focuses on the ironic. One of the artist's most-famous lines, not included in the DIA project, is, "Protect Me from What I Want."

Holzer's work bears some resemblance to that of another famous conceptual artist, Barbara Kruger, though the latter superimposes messages on black-and-white photos to drive home her points, rather than just going with naked text.

Holzer's work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the Guggenheim Museum.

"Art provokes, connects and calls us to action," said DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons. "Through this project we hope those who feel they have not been heard are moved to have their say at the ballot box."

The You Vote project has brought together citizens, activist groups, sports franchises and universities and cultural institutions to encourage people to turn out and vote in the election many are calling the most-momentous in generations.

"What I've always loved about Holzer's work," said Dolkart, "is how she’s used the public sphere and public space to raise our consciousness, and perhaps our consciences, to social and political issues. In this case," she added, "it’s about the responsibility of voting."

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Jenny Holzer's 'You Vote' projections on DIA

7 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward, Detroit

(313) 833-7900