Blah, blah, blah. There’s nothing new about the things that #Jenny Holzer tells us in her text-art. You’ve heard it all before – the gender issues, the war on women, the political wars and fears, the many familiar words in our everyday – that she has been mounting on posters, billboards, urban spaces and lately on sides of buildings with LED-lighted projections since the ‘80s. But what sets her verbiage apart is how it comes across: like inscriptions etched on gravestones. And when not the stuff of tombstones, they can strike you as commandments, edicts from on high. Made large and formal looking, Holzer’s work lends everyday words authority, as if they were decrees.

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Written in stone

With her latest work, the impact of the words looms large not only for their size, but also for the site on which they are projected -- 18th century England’s Blenheim Palace. And while this property of a privileged class has been given over to contemporary artists prior to Holzer, the fact that the structure dates back to when British artist William Hogarth satirized his time, her work carries the unwitting message that nothing in society has changed. Michael Frahm, director of the Blenheim Art Foundation, appears to have gotten the same message when he told the press that Holzer’s “work always engages with the present moment, yet has a proverbial timelessness about it.”

Words matter

You may remember Holzer for her text-art series she called “Truisms” made in the late ‘70s with slogan-like phrases such as “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise.” The phrases popped up on T-shirts back then, but now her watchwords are etched into stone.

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Of particular interest in this time of Trump, who is known for boasting prowess for abusing women, is her latter-day truism, “Morals are for little people.” Also coming to mind is the 1991 best-selling book “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” by Susan Faludi, written back when the resistance to women’s rights got a go-ahead politically. Faludi attributed the pushback to the air of dominion and subordination blowing hard in the conservative era of Reagan, the collapse of Communism, and military conflicts in the Middle East, the Falklands and Bosnia.

The Trump effect

All of which had an effect on art by women. In a London exhibit in 1981 called “The New Spirit in Painting,” not one woman was invited to participate. Apparently the new spirit could only be found in art by males. In the 1996 tome “Women, Art and Society,” Lynn Chadwick called Holzer’s series “Inflammatory Essays” elegies. But the text-art that said “A little knowledge goes a long way” – seem less like a requiem and more like words we live by.