They Do What They Do And I Do What I Do

“When I was in graduate school I had done some public things, but they were unsuccessful. They didn’t mean anything, they were abstract. I started writing on my paintings, but that didn’t work either. So when I came to New York the painting fell away and the writing became dominant. I then figured out how to take this writing public – I thought posters would be appropriate. It made sense as a public project.”

“I came to language because I wanted to be explicit about things, but didn’t want to be a social realist painter. I had been an abstract painter and that was the painting that I loved, and that I could do. It’s not that I thought that one was better than the other, but for some reason I couldn’t become a figurative painter. I wanted to be explicit about things, and it became clear that the only other way for me to do it was to use language. People can understand you when you say or write something.”

“I sometimes am criticized for not being a great writer, which I think is legitimate. My writing can use improvement, and if the criticism is sincere, it’s helpful to me. But what is not useful is when there’s some silly competitiveness from people who write for a living and find it inappropriate or unseemly that I write. They do what they do and I do what I do.”

Jenny Holzer

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