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Collections IT TAKES A WHILE BEFORE YOU CAN STEP OVER INERT BODIES AND GO AHEAD WITH WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO DO. from The Living Series

Collections IT TAKES A WHILE BEFORE YOU CAN STEP OVER INERT BODIES AND GO AHEAD WITH WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO DO. from The Living Series

Title
IT TAKES A WHILE BEFORE YOU CAN STEP OVER INERT BODIES AND GO AHEAD WITH WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO DO. from The Living Series
Artist
Jenny Holzer
Date
1989
Dimensions
overall 17.25 × 36 × 18 inches
Materials
granite
Location
On view at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Object Details

Type
Sculpture
Accession Number
1993.99
Edition
3/3
Physical Description
bench with engraving on the seat
Credit Line
Anonymous gift from a local resident with appreciation for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and contemporary art, 1993

artwork entry Jenny Holzer, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1998

Onto each of the twenty-eight white granite benches arranged symmetrically around the perimeter of a square, Jenny Holzer has engraved a different aphorism. Since the mid-1970s, using words as her artistic medium, Holzer has been disseminating her provocative messages—"truisms"—into public spaces: on posters, on stickers placed on parking meters or telephone booths, on electronic display signboards from Times Square to Caesar’s Palace, and most recently, on the Internet. As the first woman artist to represent the United States at the prestigious Venice Biennale in 1990, Holzer created a memorable installation of twenty-one electronic signboards flashing messages in a babel of languages. Her sculptural installation in the Garden allows visitors a place to rest as they contemplate her cryptic, often contradictory, messages and the role that language plays in contemporary society.

Jenkins, Janet, ed. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1998, no. 29.

© 1998 Walker Art Center

curriculum resource Jenny Holzer, Selections from the Living Series (1989) Walker Art Center, 1998

“For The Living Series I [used] a moderate, average voice and language because I thought that would match the subject, which was everyday events that just happened to have some kind of kink to them. The writing described these events and then offered some sociopolitical observations or absurdities.”–Jenny Holzer

Artist Jenny Holzer has been using words in her art since the mid-1970s. For the work Selections from the Living Series, she engraved a different message on each of the twenty-eight white granite benches. The provocative messages are often contradictory and do not necessarily reflect the artist’s own opinion. Holzer’s installation offers visitors a place to rest as they think about what they have read and the role that language plays in contemporary society. The benches are arranged in a square, allowing this part of the Garden to be used for performances or other events. These benches are just one way Holzer has presented her words in public spaces. She has also made posters and stickers, and has used electronic sign boards and the Internet to display her text-based artworks.

Text for Jenny Holzer, Selections from the Living Series (1989), from the curriculum guide The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: A Garden for All Seasons, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center